DC News & Views 04.27.04

This week we have an interview with Devin Grayson, a pre-order fluke that just might lead to Wildstorm reconsidering recent cancellations, and oh my goodness!, could there be another printing of Superman/Batman #8? (answer: yes) All this plus appearances by Jim Lee, Brad Meltzer, Timothy Green, and Michael Lark. And it is all brought to you by a little taste of Australia here in America, the Outback Restaurants. Giddy-up!


Grayson on Grayson Action!

If you’ve been reading any Batman-related title in the last six or more years then you’ve probably come across something written by Devin Grayson. Swinging into the comic industry back in 1997 with Batman Chronicles #7, Grayson continues to work hard to provide some of the most entertaining comics in the Batman universe. Case in point – her recent stories in Nightwing which have been compared (quite favorably) by some to the wringer Frank Miller put Matt Murdock/Daredevil through in the now classic “Born Again” arc. For months now, Dick Grayson just hasn’t been able to catch a break, and, well…it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Dodge the debris of a life shattered on your way to Newsarama

The first storyline Grayson wrote for Nightwing, featuring him globetrotting in search of the Police Chief’s wife was a bit of a disappointment for me. Coupled with the end of Dixon’s run, the book felt rudderless to me and I was, sadly, contemplating bringing my relationship with the title to a close.

Then, this current arc began and all was forgiven. Yes, as some have said, this is very much like Born Again with the exploding apartment and general tone and tenure. But so what? Grayson is offering more than enough “new” elements to make this storyline more of a cousin of Born Again, and thus, not at all a carbon copy.

I get the same feeling from this title that I got from Johns on Flash. The second arc for both of them on the title felt more like their first. That is, the way the rest of their run was to unfold, the level of quality, the tone, the approach, etc. was not truly indicated by that first storyline. Instead, in the second, all the elements gelled and it was made clear that this choice of creator was very much the right one. And anyone who has read more than a few of these columns knows by now that a comparison to Johns’ Flash work is a pretty excellent compliment when it comes to me.

Another excellent compliment would be being compared to a nice, cool glass of Cherry Coke, from Coca-Cola. Mmmm…that is one refreshing beverage.


Meltzer On “Crass Marketing” and What Identity Crisis is Really About

Scott Hinze the host and producer of Fanboy Radio has provided THE PULSE with highlights from his recent show with Identity Crisis writer, Brad Meltzer.

Dig the text preview at The Pulse

Nice to see that the term “Crisis” is just an attempt at implying a brand of quality as opposed to really being related to Crisis on Infinite Earths. That puts what was my largest concern with the crossover to rest. I feel calm and at one with the universe. Thus, the perfect condition for reception of company crossover. Much in the same way Cox Cable provides perfect reception and picture quality.

It is also great to hear that three of DC’s best writers are cooperating with Meltzer to make a cohesive fallout from the events of Identity Crisis.


An Article About Gotham Central Artist Michael Lark. Why? Because It is A Damn Good Book…Dammit

Helping to bring the dark world of Gotham City to life each month in the pages of its cop drama, Gotham Central is Michael Lark. Lark’s added a depth and dimension to the mean city streets and made the characters even more sympathetic to readers. There’s a buzz about this series, and, after just a few pages, it’s easy to see why!

Read an article about a Damn Good Artist at The Pulse DAMMIT!

The thing with Gotham Central is this. Both Daron and I love it. And if both Daron and I love something then you not picking it up makes you a sucker and, possibly, a fool. Actually, change that possibly to probably. Sure, I still like you. (Heck, you inflate my ego by reading my column, that is a very important gesture to me), but frankly, you need to listen better.

Alright, scolding aside, buy this book. Seriously. Daron cries at night when you don’t. And by crying, I am not talking manly sniffling, like when I watch Field of Dreams or Philadelphia. I am talking bawling, drooling, need to blow your nose crying, like the first time your little sister (or brother) had a pet that died. That kind of crying. Which isn’t to say Daron isn’t manly. It is just to say, he takes Gotham Central very seriously.

(Before I go any farther, I just want to let you know to scan through the talkback section of the article to see Sean Phillips comments about himself. They are darn funny).

I have, in the past, been critical of Lark’s panel layout. I think his actual style is excellent. The covers of Bullock and Mad Hatter in the article more than prove that. His linework is beautiful and he does a wonderful job developing each person’s face. Yes, you need a scorecard to keep track of the characters, but that is because there are so many of them. They all maintain a unique look from one another. And yes, count that as another vote for a character lineup at the start of each issue. If they do it for JLA and JSA and we basically know those guys like the back of our hands, why not for Gotham Central?

Anyway, I only mentioned my past criticism in the interest of full disclosure. I think the art is great, I just wish Lark would experiment more with panel layout as opposed to the fairly standard grid he tends to employ. In recent months, that style does seem to be opening up some, so I am optimistic.

In the end, the book is so good that panel layout is the most minor of minor complaints. I still love the book and I still love the art. Now go buy this book! Oh, and Daron, here’s a Kleenex brand facial tissue.


Lee Makes Like Your Mom And Offers Advice You Didn’t Ask For

You’ve seen him sell over eight million copies of a single comic.

You’ve seen his Image Comics studio break away, join with DC Comics and become one of the most successful of the Image founders.

You’ve seen him reinvigorate the comic book market with “Batman.”

But you’ll never see him at a strip club in Bristol (despite the intentions of others) and you will see him drawing superheroes blindfolded at the Comic-Con International in San Diego. And you’ll always see him smiling.

See what dastardly plans the always smiling man has at Comic Book Resources. And remember, anyone who is always smiling is EVIL! Just look at the Joker. Or President Rutherford B. Hayes.

I first have to point out that the beginning of this article is a fallacy. I did not SEE Jim Lee do any of these things. I was aware of them, but I did not personally witness them. Nitpicking? Perhaps. But without language, we are barely apes. And if we don’t use language correctly? Well, that way lies madness.

At this point in time I think referring to Jim Lee as “former X-Men artist” (as is done here) is kind of like calling Sarah Michelle Gellar “the ex-Burger King commercial spokesperson” (Have it your way). I mean, sure, they did do those things, and sure it propelled them onward and upward in their careers, but, come on now. I think Lee’s most recent accomplishments and/or name recognition alone render such references to his past work as largely unnecessary and more than a touch silly. I mean, the man has not drawn the X-Men in over 10 years and has done plenty noteworthy things since then. No one name checks Todd McFarlane as the “ex-Spider-Man artist” and you would not expect them to.

Well, that went on a bit longer they I expected. What was supposed to be a one off joke (and a reference to a corporate sponsor of ours) quickly morphed into a mini-rant. Sorry about all that.

And by now I have prattle on for too long. So I’ll just offer this heads up to Mr. Lee, in response to his advice on eating: “Never met a happy person who ate unhealthily.” My girlfriend, (name withheld for her own protection), is never happier than after she has consumed Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie. So…so there! Screw your lousy advice.


Nice to See Superman/Batman #8 Getting Some Press

The excitement over SUPERMAN/BATMAN #8 continues as DC Comics goes back to press for a third printing of this sold-out issue. This issue features the first chapter of the storyline “The Supergirl From Krypton,” written by Jeph Loeb with art and cover by Michael Turner.

Silver Bullet Comics

Another printing, brought to you by corporate copying giant Kinkos? It just might be, it just might be. (the emphasis…the emphasis)


Green and Your 6th Grade Math Teacher Agree: Knowing Fraction is Important

Sharing is something we’re all taught to do from our earliest days. Sometimes it’s tough to share though … like when it comes to the last slice of pizza, a winning lottery ticket, or a super-powered suit capable of just about anything. The bonds of friendship are tested each month in the new DC Focus series, Fraction. We caught up with writer David Tischman before the series began and now artist Timothy Green gives us a piece of information about this series.

Grab your calculator and head on over to The Pulse

Green does some very nice work on Fraction and I do not just say that because of its characters looks kind of like me. (It certainly doesn’t hurt, of course, but it takes a lot more than that to buy my love of a title).

The unfortunate part of the art, however, is the palette that all the Focus titles use. Each of the titles I have found to have some great and fitting line work. However, the coloring applies an almost washed out look that, generally, hurts the art. I am all for different approaches when it comes to colorization. Part of me still misses the three color approach that Detective Comics used for some time post-NML. I thought that it served the story wonderfully, adding a noir feel without sacrificing the art. However, in this case, I feel the coloring detracts, not compliments, the line work. Beyond establishing a look to the brand, there does not seem to be a compelling reason to use the washed out look and that makes it more difficult for me to appreciate it.

But, hey, we are all entitled to our opinion. And as long as that is the case, Great White will continue to make great 30% Recycled Paper for us to put that opinion in writing.


Amazon Fluke Gives Way To Online Activism

In the wake of the recent cancellations of Wildcats Version 3.0 and StormWatch: Team Achilles, fans of the both series have been looking for away to appeal to DC/Wildstorm in order to save the books, if at all possible. From online petitions to letter-writing campaigns to editors at DC & Wildstorm, the motivated readers of these titles have been trying to change the minds of those in charge.

A rather unique way that readers have found is made possible by an apparent slip-up at Amazon.com. Despite the cancellation of the single issues and upcoming collected editions, this listing on Amazon.com has the 3rd collection of StormWatch: Team Achilles available for pre-order. Series writer Micah Wright told Newsarama that the cancellation of the third trade was his first hint that the series may be in trouble.

Join the online movement at Newsarama

Will this provide DC and Wildstorm with enough evidence to reinstate these two critically popular, but under bought titles? My feeling is, alas, it will not, but I see no reason to give in to my skepticism. Even if there is only a slight chance of success, it doesn’t hurt anyone to put forth this small effort. If we don’t quit, much like Red Zone deodorant doesn’t quit when the heat comes on, then who knows what we might accomplish.


Ahh, the Independent Spirit Awards of the Comic World

The MoCCA website has gone live with the 2004 Harvey nominees. Nominated by industry creators, the 17th Annual Harvey Awards will be presented on Saturday, June 26, as part of the Third Annual MoCCA Art Festival. The nominees include a wide variety of work, from KRAMER’S ERGOT #4 to Mark Waid for Marvel’s FANTASTIC FOUR.

The complete list of nominees follows:

Enter Comic Book Award Season at The Pulse if you dare!

So, I see you dare.

Who knew the comic books had an award season. Heck, I’ve read ‘em since I was about 10 (that’s 12 years ago for those of you scoring from home) and, while I was aware of the Eisners and the Harveys, I never actually knew that there was a season for it. Shouldn’t there be some sort of telecast for this? I mean, America does love its award shows.
Think about it. “Brought to you by Tropicana Grovestand Orange Juice, because You Love You Some Pulp Like You Love You Some Comics, live from Auditorium A at the Plaza Hotel, The 2004 Harvey Awards!!!!!!!! Please Give A Warm Welcome to Your Host,

MMMMAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTIIIIIINNNN LAWRENCE!”

And then, of course, Martin would come out to strains of the theme to his hit TV show: “MARTIN! I’m the man! MARTIN! How you all been!”

And that, dear readers, would rule.


The Elitists, And Why They Are Ruining Comics

Don’t these people make you sick? They’re on the message boards, they’re in the comic shops, they’re looking over the creators’ shoulders every last second. They’re quite possibly the reason why the popular comics industry has suffered so much in recent years. They are…the elitists!

Silver Bullet Comics

Here we are, another entry in what I have nicknamed the cultural articles, that is articles discussing the culture of comics in general, not just DC.

The biggest reason that this one makes the column is that I fear I am the very elitist that Tim Hartnett hates so very much.

I mean, dig the evidence. I love Alan Moore and Frank Miller (with some exceptions). John Byrne’s work hasn’t done anything for me in the past decade and I think handing the reigns of the industry over to him maybe one of the worst ideas ever. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar have been responsible for some of my favorite comics ever (JLA, Authority, their collaboration on Aztek, etc).

However, I also dig a lot of the titles that Mr. Hartnett lists off as worthwhile. Birds of Prey and Ultimate Spider-Man are oft praised by myself and Kurt Busiek, well the thought of him doing pretty much anything gets me giddy (sidenote: scoop up Superman: Secret Identity and do so…now!). So does he hate me? And if so, why?

Can’t answer that, I’ve never met the man. What I can tell you is oooh boy did this article rub me the wrong way. How do we combat what we view as cynicism and condescension amongst comic fans? Well, according to Mr. Hartnett, we heap more of it on. Now, granted, he didn’t come right out and say that, but that is certainly the tone of his argument.

I like mature takes on superheroes. That does not mean I am looking for masturbation or nudity as he outright states. In fact, I think that has little or nothing to do with maturity and I can’t tell you the last (or first) story that had any sort of masturbation in it. Some nudity, perhaps, but I never felt dirty after I read a comic. I think Hartnett raises an interesting issue with the “elitist” debate, but he fails to discuss it in anymore than generalities. His “elitists” are reduced to little more than drooling horny jerks. And he fails to acknowledge the whole other group of elitists who only love the traditional and bristle at any creator or fellow reader who suggests that other takes might or are working just as well. And even that characterization I just spouted off is unfair.

In all truthfulness, most of us in comics are elitists in some manner or another. People with a hobby that they pay as much attention to as we do usually are. We like the shops we go to because we know most everyone and it is something of an oasis. We like the people we know who read comics because they, more often than not, view comics in the same way we do. For all our jawing about reader accessibility, we hate alterations in continuity, done for clarity or whatever, and we rarely support new titles. Again, this is an oversimplification. Of course it is. But there is enough truth in that passage that I recognize myself and all of comic book friends in at least some of its elements.

However, nothing about this article was as disappointing to me as when Hartnett says, “When was the last time you spent your hard-earned $2.99 (or whatever you pay), and felt you got your money’s worth?” How about Wednesday? If a book isn’t worth my money, why would I keep buying it? Sure, every book has an off issue. Sure, I have been disappointed by titles. But never is there a week where the vast majority of what I picked up provided me enough entertainment to make it worth my while. According to him, there is only one title that makes him feel that way and it is only two issues in: She-Hulk.
Whether I am an elitist or not, whether most of us are or aren’t, that is just a damn depressing thing to hear from a comic book fan.

Another week, another column done. It’s been fun folks and I hope I see you all here next week. Wait, I don’t hope, I demand. Who are you to deny me? Yeah…that’s what I thought. So be here next week. Oh and check the message boards and e-mail to offer up your sweet, sweet input. Mmmm, input.

Oh, and lest I forget, check out Ben Morse’s Watchtower this week. He isn’t me, but he is kind of like me. Plus, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay cute. Or, umm, something.

Obey your thirst. Drink Sprite. Obey Un Gajje. Read his column