DC News & Views

We are chock a block with news, just like the good old days. Thus, don’t waste time reading this intro, just get to the news.

Christmas Tree Factoids (care of The University of Illinois: Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work!)
“¢ Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United states since about 1850. Until fairly recently, all Christmas trees came from the forest.
“¢ Thirty-four to thirty-six million Christmas trees are produced each year and 95 percent are shipped or sold directly from Christmas tree farms.
“¢ California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees – 8.6 million in 1998.

“¢ The best selling trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine.
“¢ More than one million acres of land have been planted in Christmas trees. The industry employs over 100,000 people. Many Christmas tree growers grow trees on a part-time basis to supplement farm and non-farm income.
“¢ More than 2,000 trees are usually planted per acre. On an average 1,000-1,500 of these trees will survive. In the North, maybe, 750 trees will remain. Almost all trees require shearing to attain the Christmas tree shape. At six to seven feet, trees are ready for harvest. It takes six to ten years of fighting heavy rain, wind, hail and drought to get a mature tree.
“¢ Selling directly to the consumer has become a major market for many Christmas tree farms. Some tree farms offer the consumer the chance to select his own tree while it is still growing in the tree farm.
“¢ In North America, there are more than 15,000 Christmas tree growers.
“¢ In the United States, there are more than 12,000 cut-your-own farms.
What? I told you not to waste your time with this intro. You people just never listen.

Tremble Before The Awesome Might of”¦..DIDIO!

Dan DiDio has been promoted to Vice President – Executive Editor, DC Universe, it was announced by Paul Levitz, DC Comics President & Publisher. DiDio will continue to report to Levitz.

DiDio, who joined DC Comics in January 2002 as Vice President – Editorial, oversees the editorial department for the DC Universe imprint. As the DC Universe Executive Editor, DiDio charts the ongoing adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and scores of heroes and villains; he also works to develop new titles with the industry’s premier writers and artists.

Go to The Pulse to pay homage to your new king. And MORE trembling!

Dan Didio joined DC Comics in January of 2002 as a relative newcomer to comics. Not that he hadn’t been reading them or following them, but he came into an executive slot at DC with no previous experience in comic publishing, management, or even creation. It was a risk that caused more than a few raised eyebrows.

Two years, nine months later, Didio is a well known name, even revered in some circles as the man who lit the fire under DC Comics to shake up the venerable comic publisher, and give the whole core “DC Universe” line and top to bottom shakedown and evaluation. Chief among Didio’s tasks, he signed dozens of creators to exclusive contracts, guaranteeing him a talent pool for the future, as well as placing some of these top creators (as well as fellow VP, Jim Lee) on the company’s top properties. Wizard named Didio its first ever “Man of the year” in 2003 for his work on the DC Universe, and, given the announcement of his promotion to Vice President — Executive Editor, DC Universe, it’s not just the outside that’s noticing Didio’s work to date.

Just prior to the announcement of his promotion, Newsarama had an opportunity to sit down with Didio to talk about a variety of topics.

Read the interview of the century at Newsarama. Also, I find that you are lacking in your trembling. Turn that trembling up to eleven.

The toughest part of this interview is easily the section where Newsarama asks about War Games, just after DiDio saying that he hated event driven stories and that more often than not, in the past, “they were sprung on the writers or artists, or anybody else at the last minute, and everybody had to stop what they were doing, rethink what their book was about, and try to force a concept into it.”
“And it read like that, for the most part. It read contrived.”
Immediately after that, he has to then defend War Games. It is a tough spot and he dances out of it nicely, but Games does stand in pretty stark contrast to the ideas he espousing in relation to Identity Crisis.
And for those of you who are counting them, this interview has yet more references to 2005 and a big plan. Ooooh, intrigue.

HIV, Controversy Coming to Star City with a Brand New Speedy

His first sidekick had a drug problem. Now, Green Arrow’s newest young partner, Mia, who’s been part of the series since its relaunch, will have her own demon to battle – HIV.

According to the AP, the revelation will come in this week’s Green Arrow #43, as Mia who was a teenage runaway when Green Arrow took her in, learns that her time spent as a prostitute resulted in her getting the virus.

Read the article here at Newsarama

Yesterday the comics world was taken by surprise when it was the Associated Press and not a general comics site that spoiled the storyline in Wednesday’s release of “Green Arrow” #43 – Mia Dearden had tested positive for HIV. CBR News caught up with series writer Judd Winick Wednesday to learn more about his plans for Mia and where he’s taking the character. A word of warning to readers concerned about spoilers, there are a few in the text below.

And check out Comic Book Resources for some comments from Winick himself.

Almost all of you have heard this by now as it was wallpapered on every comic site on the web on Wednesday last week. First, let me just express a bit of annoyance at that. The book in which it was revealed the Mia was HIV positive came out the same day. Most of the time, the headline itself gave away the revelation. So even if you wished to avoid the article for the fear of spoilers, it was too late. It said HIV or AIDS right there in the headline. Congratulations, last page of the book spoiled for you. I know it was released by the AP on the same day, but most comic websites are usually a bit better about that sort of thing. I do have to give a special mention to ComiXtreme as they were the only site that I found who carried the story but did not broadcast the plot twist in the headline. That was classy and it still provided the readers with a chance to read the article if they so choose. Best of both worlds there it was.

My gripes about comic book journalism aside, let me turn my annoyance to talkbackers. I was stunned, repeat stunned, by the amount of people who basically said, “Screw this, I want escapism, not reality. Stories like this don’t belong in comics.” The first part, fine, we all have our own reasons for seeking entertainment. But the second part”¦ it is just such an incongruous opinion to my own I have a difficult time seeing how or why they feel that way. It is, to me, like saying the only movies worth making should feature asteroids crashing into the earth and/or massive tidal waves, the only plays worth producing are written by Shakespeare, and the only musical that should ever exist are written by Gilbert and Sullivan. It is SO narrow to me. Comics are just as viable an art form as any other, whether they be war, superhero, or romance, so why limit ourselves to endless issues of people hitting one another for the greater good? I love comics like that too, but it should not be the end all be all of this industry. The sheer vehemence of some people’s reaction to this news knocked me back on my heels. Can fans really be this insular, this reactionary? When I come down some, I realized, that of course they could. They could also be magnanimous, smart, cocky, cool, angry, happy, etc. And that’s all well and good. It just works me up when I see the fallout of something like this because I cannot help but feels like it diminishes the whole of us somehow.

Look, right or wrong, agree or disagree, people have a right to say what they want, on the net or otherwise. I just hate, hate, hate the stereotype of “fanboys” are change fearing man children who are irrationally devoted to the fictional worlds of fictional characters and often times people’s feedbacks on things like this event feed right into that. It is hard to maintain that fandom is not really like this when a very vocal section of people seems to be going out of their way to say the opposite. Again, I don’t dispute their right to say it. It just makes me sad sometimes.

As for the storyline itself, I say why not? Disease is a reality of life, HIV is effecting more and more women than ever before, why not have an HIV positive lead or near lead? Does Winick have the writing chops to pull it off? I cannot say for certain, of course, but I have faith. I doubt he went into this decision lightly and I would like to see the story that is to be told here. And I think comics are the perfect place to tell it.

Hester and Parks: Nocking No More

At the DC Comics Message Boards, Phil Hester has announced that he and inker Ande Parks are leaving Green Arrow with issue #45. Hester wrote:

Green Arrow #45 will be the last issue Ande and I draw.

Bid a fond, tearful farewell at Newsarama

On the one hand, they had a great run. On the other, that is all the more reason I don’t want to see it end. But hey, they know best when it is time to leave the table. If they think now is it, then I accept it. Now, commence the theorizing on what is up next!

All Sorts of Nocking in Fowler and Ramos’s Future

It’s rare that a top artistic team in comics spends much more than a year or two on a specific title these days. Whether it’s the comic publisher looking to move a rising star from one book to another to give it a kick in sales, or an artist simply choosing to only spend so much time with a given character or title, artistic teams tend to move around a bit.

Comic Book Resources

“I stand thirteen feet tall and shoot lasers from my eyes.”

It is hard to dislike a man with those qualifications. I tend to have a fairly difficult time judging artwork on pencils alone, so this article did not do me much of a favor in terms of judging what issue #46 will look like. There is, however, an image that will stay with me for quite some time, embedded in my nightmares. Check out the smile on Mia’s face in the lower corner of the first image. AHHHH! Scary, scary stuff.

Queries on Question

I’ve been hearing a lot of questions about this new mini featuring The Question. “Which incarnation of is it?” “Is this Rorshach?” “Is this the Ditko version or the post-Crisis Question that teamed with Green Arrow and hangs out in Gotham now?” The answer to some of those queries will be revealed in this interview with writer Rick Veitch. This miniseries should please everyone who has loved the Question over the years. This could be any or all versions of him – whether your first exposure to him was from the Charlton series or the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.

Did you know inquiry is another synonym for question? Well, either way, it would behoove you to grab a taxi through Hub City and stopping at Metropolis and The Pulse

Boy, DC is really doing the full press on this book interview wise. So much so that I actually have nothing to say here that I haven’t said before.

So, to recap: great art, intriguing story, I’m there for the first issue.

Gotham Knights Post Games

You can’t pick up a Batman related comic without seeing news of the epic event, Batman: War Games. One of the writers helping to bring this story to life – or death for more than a few characters – is Andy Lieberman. Lieberman’s been working on a variety of Bat comics since his Harley Quinn days. See why he said, among other things, it felt “weird” to work on this story.

See Batman make things weird at The Pulse

Two things in this interview are sure to raise the cackles of many a fan. First, Lieberman says that Hush, not Batman, is the lead of Gotham Knights. In fairness to Lieberman, I assume he means for his first arc on title and the one that is upcoming. However, just by saying it, he opens himself for criticism (as in, “How can Hush be the star if it is called Batman: Gotham Knights?”). And sure enough, in the feedback forum a fan says just that.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I see no reason why Hush cannot be the lead for an arc or two (especially since the previous arc was as much about Joker if not more so). Beyond that, however, is probably not a good idea. The cool thing about the Knights title when it was conceived was that it was essentially Batman Family: The Modern Years and I would love to see it get back to that. With a sort of rotating focus to various cast members, heroes, villains, or just regular old folk, Lieberman could just that. Hopefully, after this next Hush arc he does. Also, after this next arc, it might be time to give the good Dr. Elliot a bit of a breather. After Hush over in Batman, the first arc in Gotham Nights, appearances in War Games, and this next arc, overexposure could quickly set in.

The second thing that may annoy people is the news that War Games put that second arc on hold. It also goes to highlight again, from earlier in this column, the differences between the Identity Crisis “tie-ins” and the War Games crossovers. Between this and Robin (which seemed cut off at the knees by Games) it seems that a few storylines were put on hold for the crossover.

Romero Down Among the Dead Again

One of DC’s long-term announcements finally shambles to life – or at least a form of life next week as Toe Tags Featuring George Romero #1 hits stores. Written by Romero, the godfather of the current zombie resurgence and creator of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, as well as the currently in preproduction Land of the Dead, Toe Tags features interior art by Tommy Castillo and Rodney Ramos, with covers by Berni Wrightson.

While not specifically a tie-in, Romero’s story, the six-part “The Death of Death” is set in the same world as his undead films”¦in a different location. As the solicitation for the first issue reads: Overnight, the world has been turned upside down, and zombies rule the day! It’s up to a college professor named Hoffman, his assistant Damien Cross, and his gal Judy to figure out exactly how and why the undead have taken over. But even if they do get to the bottom of the plague, is it too late to save the world?

We spoke with Romero from the Toronto production offices of Land of the Dead for more on his story

Can a comic “feature” anyone? Find out at Newsarama

It’s cool to see Romero try his hand at comics. To see him try his hand at Monkey movies, check out Monkey Shines. A few years back my cousin, some friends, and myself made it out mission to watch all the horror film at our local Blockbuster, especially the awful ones. That was one of the gems we encountered. If you are a fan of monkeys who kill (and who isn’t) then you’ll love Monkey Shines.

As you can tell, I don’t have much to say about this project. So, let me recommend another film. Shaun of the Dead, in theaters now. It is funny, but it is not a parody. It does not dilute the concept of zombies at all, but it is still funny. It is dark, scary, gory, and DAMN funny. Did I mention funny? Definitely worth a watch.

David’s Experiment Yields Significant Results

At his webblog, Peter David has announced that the DC’s experiment in distributing free copies of Fallen Angel worked, and the series is safe – at least for a little longer.

Check his scientific method at Newsarama

Perhaps the grassroots movement is taking hold?

If not, Mr. David, you can always use my idea about reading it to people in their homes after you tuck them in. Because, frankly, I am not sure how many more hoops you can jump through at this point to get people to notice the book.

What do Metallica, The Diceman, and Identity Crisis #1 All Have in Common?

A full week before its original in-store date of October 13, IDENTITY CRISIS #1 Second Printing (APR045288) has sold out at DC Comics. This blockbuster miniseries is written by New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer with art by Rags Morales & Michael Bair and covers by Michael Turner. The new printing has been rescheduled to arrive in stores on October 20.

They’re sellouts! (My apologies to fans of the Diceman) See why ID Crisis has joined their ranks once again at Newsarama

Choose your own feedback!

“How many more copies down #1 need to sell before it goes platinum?”

or

“So that’s what”¦a billion copies now?”

or

“I heard that Nightwing is the Identity Crisis Killer. Is this true?”

Bunche’s on the Trail of a Bloodhound

Haven’t checked out DC’s Bloodhound yet? Steve Bunche’s read the first arc and offered us this review of the Dan Jolley, Leonard Kirk, and Robin Riggs created comic book. Bunche explained “The monthly series focuses on the over-the-top bone-crunching exploits of ex-Atlanta detective Travis Clevenger, an investigator with an uncanny – and non-super – knack for tracking down superhuman perps of the worst kind.”

You know what are funny looking dogs? Basset hounds. They sure are jowly. Anyway, Clevenger is not a basset hound, but I think that would be an interesting direction to take the character. An interesting direction for you to take would be clicking here to The Pulse

First, I must give Bunche props for the opening paragraph. It is horribly reductive and inaccurate and thus, amusing. It’s satire people. Plus, he name dropped The Cure and that is never a bad thing.

I won’t talk over him any more than that. Read the article and I hope it will persuade you to pick up the book. It is a title well worth your dough.

Another title well worth your dough is sadly on its way out. Monolith, according to January solicitations, is ending as of issue #12. I’d link to an article here, but as of press time I had not found any. A year is not very much, but it is more than some get (Chase, Aztek) so I guess there is some brightness to be pointed to here. Hopefully, Manhunter and Bloodhound will find enough of an audience that they won’t end up following Monolith to cancellation any time soon.

Well, that’s all for me. See you next week.

Un Gajje is proud to award Tim Sheridan a Newington No Prize. Big ups to the Didz.