DC News & Views 04.06.04

First off, non comic news. A little home state and school pride moment for me, so I have to congratulate the UCONN men’s basketball team and their national championship and wish the women good luck tomorrow. Perhaps we will be the first team to have men and women’s basketball championships in the same year. Hell, no perhaps. Here’s where UCONN rolls. WHOOOOOOOOO!

So anyway, comics!


Eaglesham is DC’s New H-E-R-O

In December of 2002 CrossGen announced that veteran penciler Dale Eaglesham had joined the imprint. The publisher seemed like a good fit for Eaglesham, who had experience working on the space-faring heroes from both Marvel and DC. He took over the art chores on Sigil after Scot Eaton decided to leave CGE. Eaglesham was one of the casualties of the CGE restructuring which occurred in Fall of ’03. Sigil was one of several CGE titles cancelled and Eaglesham found himself on the unemployment line, but was able to secure work with DC Comics and Will Pfeifer on H-E-R-O.

Grab the “device” and take your brand new power on over toThe Pulse

While CrossGen continues to seemingly head into its last days (read any news site to see the whats and hows of what I speak) I can at least point to the return on many creators to DC and Marvel as a positive and Eaglesham is the latest in that line. And on H-E-R-O no less, which makes me even more pleased.

I am curious to see how the art ends up fitting in this book. I really liked all of the Batman stuff he did during and following the No Man’s Land saga and was pleased when Green Lantern picked him up. However, perhaps because of the way the book was going in general or perhaps not, his art just did not do as much for me on GL as it had previously. It was still quite good; it just seemed to lack the kind of excitement that it had elicited from me when I was reading his work on Batman. Even in retrospect, having recently re-read the saga, it still works for me.

The preview pages in the article make me think that this a return to the Batman level of excitement. Once again, it could be just because I am more into H-E-R-O now than I was GL at the time, but either way, I am glad to see that Eaglesham art is something I am looking forward to once more.

I encourage everyone to scan the talkback section as well as there is a guy offering to buy and send you the first issue of Eaglesham’s run for free in the hope of getting you hooked. Might be a good way to pick up a free comic of what is a great series you all should already be reading


DC to Release the Hound…the Bloodhound!

Monolith, Ex Machina, Enginehead. Come July, DC’s growing list of new titles starring new characters grows again, this time, thanks to Bloodhound by Dan Firestorm Jolley and Leonard (Supergirl) Kirk.

In this case, the “Bloodhound” is Travis Clevenger, an ex-cop who has a knack for hunting and catching metahumans. On the whole, the new series will take a look at the life of a fairly rough and tumble cop who can get into the heads of metahumans (although, metaphorically, not literally). Figure a Sipowicz from NYPD Blue with his angry dial turned up to 12…or 47.

To find out when Firestorm become Jolley’s middle name…well, it’s possible that it will be discussed, you won’t know unless you look at Newsarama

Another new character for DC, another interesting idea. These brand news titles are interesting to me. I recall back in the day when Gunfire, Firebrand, Argus, etc were given their own titles, seemingly overnight and all at once. Unfortunately, they suffered pretty inglorious fates pretty quickly. Of course, I don’t recall any of the concepts from those sounding nearly as interesting as the concepts for these, but it bears noting. Similarly, over at Marvel, there was little success for the Tsunami line despite it being, generally, critically well-received.

So why now for DC to introduce so many new titles? I do not know, but I am glad for it. I hope at least one or two catch on so DC will not be dissuaded from seeking about and green lighting interesting new concepts for ongoing titles. In a world of several dozen Superman, Batman, X-Men, or Spider-Man titles, it would nice to see some more quirky fare catch on.

What about you Daron? Excited for any of these titles? Have any insight on why now?

To be 100% honest I’m a bit torn. Seeing as how I’m a big DC supporter, I’m glad they are putting out new series, and wish them the best as always. But, again being honest, none of the new titles has really interested me. I hear good things about them, but nothing that has swayed me enough to want to buy them.

I have to echo your statement about Tsunami. There were a lot of good books that came out of Tsunami, but because most of them featured new characters they didn’t succeed. DC has just as many characters lying around doing nothing as Marvel. I think it would be a little wiser to intersperse new titles with new characters with new titles with more well known/underused characters. -The Overlord


Catwoman is GLAAD’s Meow

On Sunday, March 28, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation honored CATWOMAN with its “Outstanding Comic Book” award as part of the annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Go to Newsarama and be GLAAD you did (ugh…I feel ill at my own pun)

A hearty congratulations to all involved in the publication of Catwoman. I love that the GLAAD awards treat comics as a serious media worthy of attention and I love that comics continue to produce works that prove that GLAAD’s interest and support of the media is not ill-advised. It makes me proud to see comics portraying human beings of any sexual orientation as something beyond caricatures, stereotypes, or martyrs for a cause. Contrast the treatment of Holly and Karon’s relationship with, let’s say, Will and Jack from “Will & Grace.” There is a matter-of-factness to Holly and Karon, a certain naturalism, while Will has been promised a “true” relationship for years (and yet to receive it) and Jack is one of the most blatantly stereotypical characters on TV. Like I said before, for a “kid’s medium” comics often deal with such topics with a whole lot more maturity than “adult mediums” whatever they might be.


”Good Parenting” Equals Great Sales for Robin

ROBIN #124 (JAN040221), featuring the story ” Good Parenting, ” has sold out at DC Comics. Written by Bill Willingham with art by Francisco Rodriguez de la Fuente and Aaron Sowd and a cover by Jason Pearson, this issue arrived in stores on March 17 and sold out by March 22.

Newsarama

Just for fun, contrast Willingham’s statement on the sellout of #124 with Bob Wayne’s. I love how in Wayne’s quote the issue is “very powerful” while Willingham takes the time to scold teenagers everywhere. I’m not sure how or if that will fuel future sales, but it certainly made me chuckle. Perhaps Wayne and Willingham should weigh-in on every press release with hilarious “Odd Couple”-esque results? Is any at DC listening? I hope so because that idea…comic gold!

Oh yeah, the issue. Yup, it is a pretty interesting start to things. Unfortunately Wizard makes it clear that Tim will be back in the fighting togs by summer for the BIG crossover, but hey, we kind of already knew that, didn’t we?


The Wildstorm Collections Are Coming, The Wildstorm Collections Are Coming!

This summer, WildStorm will release new collected editions, including the softcover edition of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Volume 2 from America ‘ s Best Comics. Along with these collections, WildStorm is preparing THE AUTHORITY: HUMAN ON THE INSIDE, an original hardcover graphic novel written by acclaimed screenwriter and novelist John Ridley (Three Kings, U-Turn, Everybody Smokes in Hell) with full-color art by Ben Oliver (Puncture). The new titles are:

Oh My God!! What are the new titles?! Go to http://newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11138> Newsarama and prevent the suspense from killing you.

There isn’t really much by way of a reaction I can offer here. Well, except to say this. There is no mention that, in addition to story credit on Three Kings and writing the screenplay for U-Turn, John Ridley also was the writer on a little series called Team Knight Rider, which, for the record, was everything you liked about Knight Rider without that cumbersome German singing sensation David Hasselhoff. You want to highlight a man’s artistic accomplishments? Then, highlight his damn accomplishments!

Alright, alright I kid (Hasselhoff isn’t cumbersome). It is something of a coup for Wildstorm to land the wisely acerbic Ridley for some Authority work. Everybody Smokes in Hell is a smart book with just the right bite of cynicism to make him a smart choice and everyone know that Three Kings is one of the best movies made about modern warfare (that being post-Vietnam) in the past 10 years.

I hope that, much like Metzler and Rucka before him, Ridley decides that he likes writing comics as much as he like writing novels and sticks around for a little while.
Also interesting is Sebastian O, Morrison’s first Vertigo foray (why is it in a Wildstorm press release? Why, I just don’t know.) It is a mash up of future technology and the Victorian era. Have not had the pleasure of every reading the miniseries myself, but it seems like it would certainly be worth at least a glance.


English Language Humanoids Hit Our Shores This Summer

Some of the world ‘ s greatest writers and artists will strike a greater presence at comics shops this summer as DC Comics rolls out the first wave of titles from Humanoids. As Humanoids ‘ English-language publisher, DC presents these titles in a new format, designed to fit on your bookshelf while maintaining the original aspect ratio of the art.

The following titles, all suggested for mature readers, are scheduled to arrive in stores this summer:

Newsarama

There is not much to this article besides release dates so I really do not have much to say, sadly. Instead, here are the lyrics to the first verse of “Jump Around”:

“Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin, I came to win, battle me that’s a sin. I won’t tear the sack up, punk you better back up, try an play the role, and the whole crew will act up Get up, stand up, c’mon put your hands up, if you got the feelin, jump across the ceiling. Muggs let the funk flow, someone’s talkin junk yo, I bust em in the eye, then I take the punks home. Feel it, funk it, amps in the trunk and I got more rhymes than the cop’s at a Dunkin, donut shop, sure enough I got props from the kids on the Hill, plus my mom and my pops I came to get down, I came to get down, so get you’re a$$ up and jump around.”

Thank you.


A Mark Waid Retrospective, For Your Reading Enjoyment

Mark Waid’s career path has taken him from fanzine writer, to freelancer, to DC editor, and then on to become one of the most sought after writers in the entire comics industry. Waid takes time out to reminisce about his career in this retrospective interview. Tracking the rise and further rise of a comics wunderkind: This Is Your Life (in the funny pages), Mark Waid.

Pay homage to Waid’s greatness at Silver Bullet Comics

A smart look back. It covers Waid’s time in comics with ruthless efficiency, but not by just becoming a timeline. There are still some great insights and further evidence of why I like Waid so much. Plus, that line about him running out of stories after 8 years although many would say 7 was priceless. And not just because I am one of those many.


GL Writer Raab Talks Hal/Kyle, The Phantom, and the Internet News Community

Ben Raab began his career in comics in 1993 as a special projects intern at Marvel where he assisted in the production of various licensed merchandise. In 1994 he became an assistant editor coordinating all aspects of the monthly publishing production of the core X-Men titles and their spin-off series, assisted in the development of characters and storylines over extended periods of time and edited numerous trade paperbacks.

In 1996 Raab became the online editorial manager for Marvel where he launched the highly-trafficked Marvel Online website and award-winning domain on America Online and oversaw all aspects of content provision, including art selection, writing and creative planning. He also conceived and developed interactive CD-ROM projects and acted as the liaison between Marvel Interactive and Editorial departments.

In ’97 he became a freelance writer and worked on numerous comics, including The Avengers, Excalibur, X-Men, Union Jack, Beast Boy, The Phantom and Vampirella. His most recent run on Green Lantern concludes with the series’ 175th issue, which goes on sale March 31.

Read the Raab interview oddly devoid of GL questions at Silver Bullet Comics

Not much DC wise in this interview, but I included it anyways as we get Raab’s reaction to the Hal/Kyle debate that I commented on recently and that seems to have been reawakened with the coming GL regime change and rumors of Kyle’s upcoming demise.

I like his take on it, that pitting one against yields no benefits. I am not entirely sure I agree, as I think open, respectful debate on any topic only helps. However, since the tenure of this particular debate is often the opposite of respectful and open, I definitely get where Mr. Raab is coming from. It’s funny that this is the only question they ask him about GL as he is writing (or has written) his last issue which also happens to be #175 and we all do love our numbers divisible by 25 in comics. I guess the buzz about Marz has made Raab something of a lame duck (political reference, not an insult, I swear), which is too bad. His run was not my cup of tea, but hey, writing the 175th issue is a still a big deal. Ahh well.

What is also interesting about this piece is his mention of the online news sites and how they have sucked some of mystery and civility out of comics. It is particularly interesting because I have read other creators saying very similar things, obviously different words, but the same sentiment, a lot as of late. In particular, the bit about access to the creators was echoed, I believe, by Mark Waid recently.

Obviously, for me, the ‘net is great. Would I be writing a weekly column where I just get to rattle on about comics without it? I would have to say, with near absolute certainty, no, no I would not. I like that and I like that so many creators seem plugged in enough to this whole community that occasionally they reach out and contact me (like Jock, calling me an idiot). It just does not get any cooler than that. Well, maybe it does, but not without actually being a comic creator myself, I suspect.

What I like about Raab’s take is that he gets both sides of it. As a creator I imagine it must be difficult not to drown in some of the bile that might be shot in your direction and thus it must be hard to not be negatively biased about these things. Still, he seems to be able to stop back enough to realize that the occurrence of dialogue about comics is a good thing, even if we must trade some of the mystery and civility that might have once been part of being a comic reader.


Kirby, The Neoconservative?

When I was a kid, I didn’t much care for Jack Kirby’s work. I could only see the tortured anatomy, the crazed motion lines, the style that didn’t look like any other comic book out there, and, to my shame, I thought that was a bad thing. I wised up a few years ago, particularly in regards to Kirby’s Fourth World comics – a quartet of titles, centered around New Gods, that focused on the war between peace-loving New Genesis and fascist Apokolips.

Come on, it is about Kirby and it comes from website that includes Beastmaster in its web address. Like I need to tell you to head on over to I Am NOT the Beastmaster

Despite not really getting Kirby and never having read his or anyone else’s Fourth World stuff, I really enjoyed this critical reading of the series. I would love to track down the original piece that this article is being written in response to. It, too, sounds very intriguing.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph that I don’t “get” Kirby, I’ll take a moment to defend myself now, so as to attempt to dodge the inevitable maelstrom of fan rage that is bound to follow such a declaration. The thing is this, I “get” Kirby in the abstract. I know he advanced the craft of comic drawing and I am certainly thankful for it. What I do not necessarily see is how he has come to deserve such a slavish almost universal artistic fan following when plenty of other artists who I feel have advanced the craft do not benefit from it. I think, (a sentiment my friend Tim Sheridan has stated about himself), it is that I am a writer (or rather, my only identifiable talent related to comics would be my ability to string words together. Calling myself a writer maybe giving myself too much credit) and therefore I just don’t related to artistic breakthroughs the same way an artist might. So, please, don’t stone me, I’m just being honest.


Alex Dueben is Anti-Superhero. You Got Something to Say About That?

I get e-mail from readers of the articles I write. Not many, mind you, but every time something gets posted I tend to get a “huzzah” or a “you’re an idiot”, or even a message from someone who very honestly would like to debate the issues I’ve brought up. One of the more common “issues” people bring up with regards to my writing is that I am “anti-superhero”.

Now, I could be defensive and mention how I read 21 DOWN, NEW X-MEN, PLANETARY, POWERS, SLEEPER, TOM STRONG, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and WILDCATS 3.0. I could mention that I have the entire run of STARMAN in a comics box in my closet. I could talk about my love of HITMAN and X-STATIX and the Tischman-Macan-Kordey run of CABLE and SOLDIER X.

But no, I really am anti-superhero.

Your blood a-boiling yet? Good, go check out the rest of the article at Ninth Art.

First off, I must give my props to the Connecticut living writer of this article. It is hard to believe that so much comic opinion offering genius hails from such a small state, but it does. So deal with it.

Secondly, and more importantly, on to the article. Why is it here? Think of it as the second chapter (Are Comics For Kids being the first) in an ongoing mission to bring bigger issues into my column. So you get your news and then we all have a little think too. A humble goal perhaps, but it is mine.

Anyway, this article makes it in because Dueben does not simply take the stand that “superheroes are dumb and unrealistic”, but rather speaks to what he views as missed potential on the part of the superhero genre. He does not say that all of the entries in the genre are failing to realize their potential, just that most are. It is an interesting point. Should comics be more of the now? Should they say more and be more about the times we are living in?

It all depends on the skill in which the issues are discussed, I think. I recently completed a fairly massive run of Daredevil (the issue before Frank Miller began drawing through current) and Ann Nocenti run on the title is a great example of this. All of her stories were very issue oriented; she took on everything from corporations to the environment to women’s liberation. Some of it was very good, some of it was tacked on and marred what could have been a really great run on the book. It comes down to whether or not the issue or issues being discussed are done so organically or if it feels like the creator is taking a little time out to get on his or her soapbox and preach. Another great example of this is Dave Sims and Cerebus and I have heard people take both positions on the matter.

There is certainly room for superhero stories that have nothing more on their mind then superheroes, it is silly to argue otherwise. However, it does distress me when creators like Kelly, Winick, Johns, and so on bring up issues that reflect or are based on current events and are criticized for it. When the tone of criticism is more concerned about the writing itself, then all is well. However, too often, I have criticisms that questioned the writer’s “right” to include issues in a comic. It too often comes across as “How dare you talk about (being gay, pre-emptive strikes, corporations, etc) in (Green Lantern, JLA, Daredevil, etc) and that just strikes me as wrong. As Dueben points out, some of the best stories, the ones fans often reminisce about the quality of, were very rooted in their own time while introducing ideas that resonated across time.

I think Dueben is perhaps a little too harsh in the end, not rightfully acknowledging a lot of good comics that do concern themselves with more than “people in spandex with violent tendencies.” Still, he raises an interesting point and one I thought was worth sharing and discussing.


EXCERPTS FROM THE MESSAGE BOARD: ARE COMICS FOR KIDS

As promised, here is some of what you guys had to say. Keep on posting and I’ll keep on showing it here.

Well, yes and no.

It kinda begs the question, what is appropriate material for children?

It’s not hard to reason that teaching a child to read using Preacher or Transmetropolitan will produce a seriously screwed up child, or that teaching them to read with The Invisibles will cause them to have a nervous breakdown by grade 3. That said, there are plenty of grey areas.

One argument is that we coddle kids too much nowadays. Look at children’s stories in the past, like say the original Brothers Grimm stories, they are, well, grim. is it possible that stories where people dying, get hurt and have lasting consequences and are morally vague are not bad for them?

Or is Jake Marlowe(Wildcats Version 3.0) right? Does the entire concept of the superhero propagate an old world notion of violence=heroism. In which case, superhero comics were for kids in past cultures, but in a progress culture looking to movie beyond war as a means towards societal unity, a new style of storytelling, or more so, a new hero, is required.

Then there is the sex vs violence argument. This is interesting because in Canada we have much harsher censorship of violence, if you watch WWE programming you notice that all acts of violence against women are replaced with crowd shots, conversely, the Janet Jackson incident would have been a relative non-issue here. The idea that violence begets violence while sex ed creates understanding and awareness of problems. In which case, superhero comics are definitely not for kids.

Then there is the catharsis argument, I watch Kill Bill or Wildcats Version 3.0 #19 and I don’t feel like engaging in violence, I feel my animalistic violent side has been satisfied and I’m looking for intellectual, humorous or sexual entertainment. The problem here is that I’ve found that cathartic violence is ultra-violence, and at what age can a child differentiate fact from fiction and if they can’t, catharsis fails.

My last and one true idea is that it isn’t the content or the exploits that matter, a child can handle negative input and pull out ok, they aren’t in need of as much protection as we give them, and a lot of the examples cited in the article are perfectly acceptable reading for young readers. Heck, at a certain age, reading should get them to question society and morality and morally ambiguous comics can get them asking questions too many kids go through life not asking. (To me this is the counter to the protecting kids argument, it creates children who accept that other people make the decisions for them or it forces them to backlash against authority without the faculties to judge for themselves what is morally right or wrong.) But what does matter is the idea of heroism. “With great power comes great responsibility.” The idea that if we can do something altruistic, we should. The loss of mainstream icons that can influence children towards ideas of community, the goodness of people, and looking out for other people’s interests as well as your own are tremendously important. As the Crash Test Dummies said, “Hey Bob, Supe had a straight job.

Even though he could have smashed through any bank in the United States, he had the strength, but he would not.” That’s the kind of role model children need. So yes, comics are for children, they still can be and still are. The problem is in turn the values people put into what a child should be raised with. The environment children are raised in is the problem, not the comics.

That said, on the other hand, until comics clean up their portrayal of women, no they aren’t for kids.

That’s my two cents.

-nalydpsycho

Actually the debate that I’ve heard has been that to save comics we have to have something to draw new, younger (children) readers in. Something to compete against the many other forms of entertainment available to them.

That’s by offering them tales geared towards their age. What the article failed to mention was that during these periods where superhero comics, horror comics and science fiction themed comics were geared towards adults, there was also an entire line of comics geared towards children.

Such as the Carl Banks Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, the Disney line that was published by Western Comics. There was Richie Rich, Casper, the Harvey line of comics.

So while there was a slew of a comic aimed at mature readers, younger readers weren’t left out.

Comics are like any other entertainment medium in that there are different books or stories for different ages, in the same way as prose novels and movies.

It’s just that in the last few years comics with a younger audience in mind are few and far between and the quality of those books leaves a lot to be desired.

Comics needs a Harry Potter. Something to capture the imagination of young readers, something to make them drag their parents into the comics shops and bookstores looking for the next issue or something similar. Then as they grow and their tastes mature they can move on to the many other titles that focus on a more mature reader.

That’s how I see it.

-The RainKing

What we need are comics for everyone-witness Japan’s approach.

Only in America did comic books become seen as a children’s medium.

PSU

Not the most exciting telling of the tale I’ve ever seen, but the author did his homework…

-Devil’s Advocate

In general, I would say that the medium of comics is for children. They are, after all, big picture books with the odd word thrown in.

In general, Marvel and DC and similar comic companies are not for children. They have child friendly sides, but some of the material they use is obviously not for younger readers. But comics are generally seen as kids stuff, and I think comics are sort of stuck between two worlds.

Personally, I like graphic novels, they are much more preferable to me than picking up actual comics. Plus, the odd actual book based on Marvel/DC characters (like the Batman book I’m reading now) is something that appeals to me greatly.

Regardless of how others see the comic book world, and the characters it has created, it’s not going to stop me from adding to my superhero figure display.

-R_O_C_K

I see where you’re coming from, but, read this comic.

Compsoc

It’s an unreleased issue of Hellblazer that deals with school shootings. IMO it shows that comics as a medium for story telling are equal to all others.

While people may perceive comics as maybe as stories with pictures, the difference is that in a good comic book, the pictures tell stories in ways no other medium can. Good examples of this are the conversation between Hyperion and Nighthawk, where we are able to see both what is, and what Nighthawk perceives. The Watchmen were the pirate comic is used to create atmosphere, mood and objectively comment on the situation both verbally and visually. Or Transmetropolitan where there is so much going on in every panel that mere words couldn’t possibly describe it and in a moving picture, the viewer can’t capture all of it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A good comic has over 88,000 words.

Just have to be ever vigilant in fighting the perception of comics

And I think there is a good divide between age groups in comics, you have your Archie’s and Batman Adventures for young kids. Mainstream superheroes for teens and pre-teens. And then, all the examples I used above are mature readers comics which are for adults.

I know based on the allowance I got, I could have bought one comic a week by today’s prices as a kid, two as a preteen and 3 as a teen. I would tend to think, that assuming the parents benefit from income inflation, that allowance also adjusts to inflations, but if parents are stuck in low income, minimum wage jobs, then no, it won’t. So comics, unlike in the depression, are for middle class and up kids, rather than all classes. Which sucks horseshit through a straw if you ask me as I think it’s the lower class kids that most benefit from having a hero like Superman.

-nalydpsycho

Thanks for all the input everyone. Much appreciated. See you next week. Remember: UCONN! That is all

If there is a man who is love, then that man is Un Gajje