I’m back and I am not nearly the jerk I was last week. Rejoice! Or, for those of you who are fans of jerks, mourn.
I have not done a long intro in quite sometime so please, allow me to indulge myself.
Last week, when I went to my local comic shop and as Tim Sheridan and I were getting ready to leave, Wayne stopped us. “I just have to ask you guys, are you registered to vote?” he asked. We, of course, are. “Good,” he said, smiling, and he let it go there. He did not ask who we were voting for or shove political leaflets at us. He just wanted to make sure his customers participated in our political process. And that is one of the many reasons he is the most excellent retailer, for my money.
And thus inspired by Wayne, I submit to you my favorite shops in my home state of CT.
1.) Heroes and Hitters- 1839 Silas Deane Hwy in Rocky Hill, CT- Home of the aforementioned Wayne. He’ll bend over backwards to help a customer out and has easily the kindest demeanor of any human being in or out of comic shop. A walking, talking anti-thesis to the Simpson Comic Book Guy retailer stereotype.
2.) Buried Under- 188 Middle Tpke W. in Manchester, CT- Great book issue and trade paperback selection plus a classy bunch of folks behind the counter. They don’t do new issues until Thursday though, so be aware of the twilight zone experience of a comic shop without new books on Wednesdays.
3.) Sarge’s Comics- 118 State St in New London, CT- My comic store away from my comic book store. Sarge’s was my shop all through college and is easily one of the largest stores I have ever been in. They were comic centric, but you could get action figures, posters, DVDs, and used CDs there as well. Huge back issue selection and a great 50 cent bin coupled with an interesting cast of characters (most of whom escape my recollection, except Feral. Which was a very fitting name) make this one hell of a shop.
4.) Eye Opener- 15 Center Court in Newington, CT- My first store where I bought the first comic I ever purchased myself. For that alone, it has to make the list. It also does not hurt that both Braddio and Art are class acts. Oh, plus hometown pride. WU-INGTON! GET YOUR WINGS UP!! Ahem”¦sorry.
So there you have it. If you are in CT or just passing through, 4 stores that you might want to stop by and take a look at. Telling them I sent you won’t earn you any free stuff (sadly) but it will increase my street cred. And street cred is important here in big bad Newington.
Thanks for putting up with the divergence. And now, the news.
Brubaker shows up again this week just to prove he is not a one column wonder (like we did not already know), plus DCNV favorite Grant Morrison talks JLA: Classified, another man named Gage (like me!), and Peter David’s latest attempt to get you to read Fallen Angel. It is all good and it is all here. Enjoy!
If You Liked Last Week’s Brubaker Coverage”¦Here’s More!
Next month Ed Brubaker gives a Wildstorm staple a new take as he and Dustin Nguyen launch The Authority: Revolution. As fans of the team will know it’s a sucke’s bet to think you know what’s coming up in the series, and Brubaker is looking to take anyone’s money who think they know where he’s heading.
Lest Midnighter shows up at your house to crack skulls, slice through the Bleed to Newsarama
This interview is a relief. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of faith in Brubaker, I have read and enjoyed 90% of his work (if not more). But Authority can be a tricky not to crack. Brubaker here makes it clear that he gets that and, more importantly, that he knows the right way to crack it.
The sample pages look great as well.
(There, equal time.)
It will be nice to have The Authority back.
Another Successful Man Living Under the Yoke of the Name Gage
Movies, TV, and now comics; Chris Gage has already proven he’s got the writing chops with work on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and The Breed, but will his knack for telling good cop stories translate to comic books? He’s taking on one of comics most dangerous characters, Deadshot, in an upcoming five-part limited series making its debut this December, Deadshot: Urban Renewal.
To read about the man writing Deadshot, who just happens to have the same last name as my middle name, why not en-gage (oh, I hate myself) The Pulse by clicking this link.
I have to say that I am digging the new sidebar thing that The Pulse is doing these days that summarizes a character, book, or creator that the piece is about. It is a cool idea and helpful to the newer comic readers. Bravo The Pulse, bravo.
As far as this Deadshot mini goes”¦very excited. Should be cool.
JLA: Classified: UNCLASSIFIED
Just because Grant Morrison is someone many consider to be one of the greatest past JLA writers, doesn’t mean the man doesn’t have anything to offer in the present day. In fact, Morrison is revisiting the characters he helped relaunch this November in the pages of the new JLA: Classified series. Morrison teased, “What happens when the world goes to hell and the only superheroes available to save the day get co-opted and used as weapons by the villains?”
Because Grant always gives good copy, grab your Hulk hands and your Sade mix tape and head on over to The Pulse
As I always do when I read a Morrison article, I played spot the brilliant quotes. Here is a smattering:
“”¦this three-parter is like being loaded into a laser gun and fired at the moon.”
“It’s all just psychology and charisma with Batman. Everyone is wary of him because he’s hard as nails, smarter than a bag full of whips and he knows all their flaws and weaknesses.”
“There are just some people in the world that you don’t f**k with and Batman is one of them.”
“Yes, I do love gorillas but it’s society’s crime not ours.”
That last quote really has nothing to do with comics, but it is pretty damn witty. And that is good enough for me.
Since we already know what is happening with this series (sweet Ultramarines return!), the real interesting stuff for me was the talkback that follows. There is a bit about writers now vastly overshadowing artists in terms of coverage and fan appreciation these days.
I, for one, have and continue to fully admit my biases. I write (hopefully well, most likely not) so I look for plotting and dialogue first and foremost. I cannot draw to save my life or anyone else’s, for that matter. Thus, while I appreciate art and there are quite a few artists I have been known to show love to in this column (with words! Get your mind out of the gutter), I often lack the resources to discuss them in any way beyond, “looks great,” or something in that general vein. As far as if and why the press as a whole is doing it”¦not sure. The “if” I wouldn’t be able to tell you without really pouring over my last several columns. The “why” Wieringo himself takes a stab at and it is the same conclusion I would draw. It is simply the pendulum swinging back towards writers after the Image era of “Artists’ Rule.”
Anyone else out there care to take a guess?
David Mixes It Up A Bit, Talks About Fallen Angel
Ever since Peter David’s critically acclaimed series, Fallen Angel, debuted, it has been searching for a larger audience. Pete’s done his part. Fallen Angel is an expertly crafted and unpredictable story about Lee, a troubled super-woman who helps people in the strange city of Bete Noire. Her origin is a mystery, her emotions are violently unstable and she’s surrounded by scoundrels who want nothing more than to take her down.
To see David doing his damnedest, take a trip on over to Silver Bullet Comics
I am not sure what else Peter David can do to get you, the average reader (no, not you in the back. You, sir, are anything but average. That is a striking tunic and pair of galoshes you are wearing there, by the way), to read his Fallen Angel. I mean, there have been countless interviews, promotions, free issue #1s. Does he need to come to your house and read you the damn book? Cause he will. I swear to God, he will.
He will bring you some warm footy pajamas, make you a nice cup of hot chocolate (with fluff”¦of course), and tuck you in nice and tight. Then, by the dull glow of a bedside lamp, he will read you each issue of Fallen Angel, sure to do the voices just like Mommy and Daddy used to do for you. Then, after he’s done, he’ll stay with you for about 15 minutes to answer any questions the issues might have raised for you. Finally, he’ll leave, turning out the light, and plugging in your Superman nightlight.
Seriously, he will.
And if he doesn’t, Mathan will. Really, he’s just waiting here by the phone. But you’ve gotta buy the book first.
If Only Professor Calculus Was Here
DC Comics’ August line-up is built around the beginning of the “War Games” event. Trailed by BATMAN: THE 12-CENT ADVENTURE (which isn’t on the chart, because Diamond consider it as a promotional giveaway), the crossover du jour is primarily aimed at elevating sales of the various mid-level Batman titles, I suspect.
Do your teacher proud and report to The Pulse. She always told you that you would need to use math outside of school.
Nothing stunning here. Good news on Ex Machina though. Bad news on everything else. Well, not everything, just the stuff I care about.
It is probably karma.
The Brave and the Bold is Now the Collected and The Available for Purchase
In the early 1960s, at the height of the Silver Age, DC Comics introduced a concept that quickly became a comics tradition: team-ups of different heroes in continuing adventures. Now, DC collects those early, influential tales in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD TEAM-UPS ARCHIVES VOLUME 1 HC.
You may be bold, but are you brave enough to venture to Newsarama?
More Silver Age goodness for those of you who love that sort of thing.
On a related note, remember when there was talk of Kevin Smith doing a Brave and Bold book for DC? The first 12 scripts have been completed and are being drawn as we speak!
Nah, just messing with you.
A funny joke, no?
NOSTAGLIA TIME (Made possible by a grant from the upcoming release of the 1970’s After School Specials on DVD on Oct. 12 and readers like you)
Flash #164-170: Wonderland
This story came out just as I was trying to decide if I was done with Flash. The events of Chain Lighting and the Dark Flash had left me burnt out and little in the Silver Age esque issues that followed changed my mind. With a new writer coming on board (Geoff Johns) I figured I would give it one more shot. The first issue of Wonderland came out and it was another alternate world Flash story so I got out. I had had enough of Wally being anywhere (the future, several futures, different dimensions, in the speed force, etc) but the present DCU and made a decision not to subject myself to it again. Thankfully, 6 issues later, Blood Will Run began and I came back to the title.
Inspired by a panelist’s question about the story during San Diego, I decided to revisit the story and give it a second shot. Turned out I made a pretty decent decision”¦ for once.
What I Liked
As surely as Waid did, Johns “gets” Wally right from the start. Even though he is entirely out of his element, he still thinks and sounds like the Wally West we all know and love. Even when Flash was at its least pleasing to me under Waid’s direction, he always nailed Wally’s voice and it is nice to see that Johns does not stumble out of the blocks on this at all.
Similarly, Johns makes it clear here how much he likes Captain Cold and how great a character the Cap can be under the right guidance.
I also appreciate the way past, present, and as it turns out, future cast members of the Flash book make appearances in the through the looking glass world. Linda fulfills the request “off with his head” shouter, Heatwave and Chyre show up as members of Keystone City’s sadistic police force, Barry is pretty much the Barry Allen of just prior to gaining super speed, and Morillo is a high paid mercenary called the Plunder (although we would not learn that little bit until months later). Even Fiona Webb is on hand as a psychologist/demon to harass a capture Wally.
Unzueta’s pencils are appropriately cartoony to convey the superhero aspects of the story. Pairing him with Hazlewood’s inks and McCraw’s colors also helps to convey the otherworldly and sinister aspects of the story.
Unzueta also does a bang up job on Brother Grimm’s origin sequence, approximating the style of children’s fairy tale books nicely.
What I Didn’t Like
Despite a bang up origin sequence, Brother Grimm never feels like a strong threat. Flash makes his way through all these barriers, so we expect a big baddie. Instead, once Wally gets to him, the Flash dispenses Grimm in about 3 pages. A big, brutal blowout might not have been in order, but the fight never feels hard won.
The other problem is, when you get right down to it, this is another alternate world story in the Flash. There have just been too many of them in recent years.
Taken on its own, this is a better story than I expected it to be. If I had it to do all over again, I would have stuck around. Johns successfully wove a lot of what occurred in these 6 issues into the storyline that followed (leading up to Blitz) and would even later return to Grimm (in, what I would judge, as a far more successful manner). Blood Will Run still feels like the grand opening of the Johns’ Flash run, but this is a good ramp up to reach that point. Flash fans and completists who missed this the first time around will probably want to hunt up the back issues. Don’t hold your breath on a trade though”¦there are no plans for it.
OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I
I applaud Johns for taking a fairly big risk here. Since Barry Allen sacrificed himself in Crisis, his heroism has been built up to almost mythic levels. He is the DC’s patron saint, no two ways about it. Therefore, to tell a story that calls that into question”¦well that is a gutsy choice.
It is also a smart one. Heroes who can are nothing but heroes are, from a dramatic standpoint, of little interest or use. What interests us most about heroes is that they ARE human, failings, quirks, and all, and yet they still manage to rise to the occasion. Allen was no different in his heyday, but now, years after his death, he has been more or less stripped of his humanity and all the nobility that comes along with it.
Of course, all of this would mean nothing if they story was not any good. Thankfully, this is a Johns penned issue and thus it is quite good. By picking up an errant thread of Identity Crisis (the idea that Allen voted to mind wipe Dr. Light), this issue depicts a Flash who is forced to come to terms with the idea that his beloved mentor was just as fallible as he is himself. It is, essentially, the story of a son realizing, for the first time, that his father (figure) is only a man.
The highlight of the entire book, however, does not even concern Wally’s budding crisis of faith. Instead, it is a brief scene of the Rogues robbing a bank. As he will tell you, Johns loves Captain Cold, and every scene he writes with Cold is infused with that love. He’s a criminal, a brutal man, but he is not heartless. There is a lingering sadness about him that was first utilized in the Cold centric issue 2 years ago and is returned to here.
And because so few are willing to give him credit, I’ll show some love to Howard Porter here. I just love his art, I think he does great superhero work. Plus, he is even improving issue to issue. Here, for example, his rendering of Kid Flash is leaps and bounds better than it was only a few months ago.
As said as I am to see this book go, I am pleased that Pfeiffer and Co. are able to end it on this storyline, which really pulls the past 2 plus years of storyline together. Even if it is ending because of lack of reader support, I get the feeling that this arc will fill like a natural close the series. I appreciate that DC gave the creators a chance to do that and that Pfeiffer is doing it while staying entirely within the universe he has created for H.E.R.O. It is a great series and this storyline is a suitable end to it.
I hate to beat a dead hose since I kind of discussed this last week, but it bears a second mention. Not a good book at all this month. Willingham has followed up the best issue of his run with the worst. And War Games keeps marching on”¦far too long.
TEEN TITANS #16
Another one of DC’s continuity “issues” is explained here as we finally see how Superboy is the Teen Titans member we know and love for rocking that sweet jean/t-shirt look became the Legion’s Superboy complete with smaller Superman costume. God love Geoff Johns for being DC’s go to “This Makes No Sense”¦Fix It” Guy. This proves not nearly as difficult a problem as Hawkman though, and there is significantly less energy needed to explain it. This story is unlikely to raise the interest of any one who is not a Legion fan or very into DC continuity. Well written and illustrated to be certain, but a bit insular for an “average” comic fan.
So…five issues and that happens? Well, there is one issue left so I am sure Loeb has another trick up his sleeve, but”¦ I just don’t.
It is a shame too, because, absent of the ending, this is the first issue that I felt truly fulfilled Loeb’s “big summer popcorn movie” credo. There were some moments that defied even suspended disbelief (Darkseid v. Batman”¦in a fist fight?!) but so it goes with popcorn movies. The action was loud, fast, and big.
But then the ending”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦
I guess we’ll see next issue if this has been a storyline full of sound and fury signifying nothing or there is a little more payoff than that.
GREEN LANTERN #181
I don’t normally do spoilers, but here I am going to. So, if you haven’t read the issue yet, don’t read this review yet.
We cool? Good. Then here we go.
Well”¦that was disappointing. We get to the end of this Green Lantern series and it ends with”¦Kyle flying off into space. Because Earth has nothing for him and he’ll endanger his mom by being there. Or something. Personally, I’d argue that supervillains good still go after good ol’ Momma Rayner, but if he stayed on Earth at least he might be able to stop them. At the least, wouldn’t he want to give her a heads-up and his taking off?
It is such an under whelming ending to what could have been truly a cathartic moment. Arguably the most powerful and persistent villain Kyle faced (besides Parallax), Major Force is vanquished here, with GL finding an interesting way around Force’s tendency to not actually die. This is a vindication of Kyle’s abilities, a display that he has matured and grown into the hero role. And his way of celebrating? Declaring himself done with Earth.
There is nothing about it that feels organic to me. He has had a rough time of it as of late but with his mom turning out to be alive, the other stuff is pretty garden variety “I have ex-girlfriends and I feel like I don’t belong where I used to” stuff. Not exactly “ditch Earth for a life of wandering the cosmos” worthy. Plus, isn’t art important to him at all anymore? Isn’t the creative process something he is invested in?
I’m not saying I cannot buy Kyle exiling himself, I am just saying I don’t buy him doing it for these reasons. Thus, the GL series ends with a whimper not a bang.
Time to welcome Hal back to the fold.
See what a difference a week makes? See how much social and pleasant I am? Hope you dug and I hope all is forgiven for last week. See you next time when I finally get around to a retro review of Aztek (like you didn’t know that was gonna happen eventually) and who knows what else. Rest assured, snide comments and obscure references will win the day as always.
At this altitude, Un Gajje is gonna get nasty.