DC News & Views


There are certain weeks where it just looks like I am going to have no column at all. By Thursday there are only two or three stories on the ‘net and none of them are all that intriguing. This was such a week.

And then, Countdown happened. Or rather, the cover of an upcoming Previews concerning Countdown leaked. The column became a whole new bag at that point. So, still, there aren’t a whole lot of stories this week. With Countdown in the mix though, I’m guessing you’re liable not to notice.

And if you do, my mindless chatter will most likely distract you anyway.

And Now…The Story that Saved This Week’s Column

Slipping through cracks, the cover to January’s Previews has been leaked, revealing apparently DC’s next major event following Identity Crisis, DC Countdown.

DC’s solicitations for March-shipping books are due to be released early next week. Until then, speculation rules.

See the cover that got the net a-buzzing at Newsarama

While few details are currently available, the cover to the March shipping Previews catalog has made it on to the Internet with details of a new 80-Page Special called “Countdown” featuring an all-star cast of DC creators. As we can see from the cover the book is written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick with art by Ed Benes, Rags Morales, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis and Jesus Saiz. The book features a cover by Jim Lee & Alex Ross. All this for the low cover price of just $1.00.

Here’s another website who has the cover. The name of this website is Comic Book Resources and they are a decent group of people. You should help their hit rate. That is, unless you hate America, kittens, and comics. Do you, you commie bastard, do you?

Ahh, I love the smell of speculation in the morning. First, to deal with the obvious guess of Nightwing. It can’t be because, as readers of the Roundtable are aware, Nightwing is the Identity Crisis killer (ahh, that joke will never get hold). However, if he is not (which he is), there may be evidence to support this. First, Nightwing is currently on hiatus (sort of) with the Year One story running. The story will wrap up in March, just in time for Countdown. Oddly, there has been no news whatsoever about what we should expect from the Nightwing title post Year One. Perhaps because there will be no Nightwing title? Hmm…perhaps? The big test is March solicitations, which would solicit the first post-“Year One” issue. Those solicitations should be on the web this evening and I will update my column if they reveal any big news.

Also, how about Blue Beetle, who appears to be the other front-runner in fans’ minds? The only thing I would say on that would be, why? Sue Dibny might not have been marquee, but her death made sense in the context of Identity Crisis’s intent. Why would the death (or grievous injury, see below) of Blue Beetle fit this story? I’m not saying it wouldn’t, I’m just saying I’d need a lot more to go on to make that leap.

Next, let’s talk assumptions. Who’s to say that the individual in Batman’s arms is dead? Maybe he is just gravely injured. Not as “scandalous”, sure, but still plausible.

And finally, a few random observations:
1.) That Jim Lee sure can draw.
2.) That Alex Ross sure can paint.
3.) Nice to see Wonder Woman in her formal (in other words, a skirt) apparel.
4.) Hal is back in the costume and Kyle is not in the scene. So, at the least, Hal is a GL again and chillin’ on earth. However, Ross has again and again expressed his dislike of Kyle (I believe he’s only painted him once, ever) so there is nothing concrete to use here to discern Kyle’s eventual fate in Rebirth.
5.) Is this Countdown the countdown to Crisis 2: Secret of DC’s Ooze?
6.) 80 pages for a dollar is not the worst deal in history.
7.) That’s a whole lot of writers! But they are all quality peeps, so I remain calm.
And finally, because I’ve always got to say it
8.) Does this mean Aztek may come back?

Now That Simone’s Signed Exclusive with DC, What’s She Going to Do? She’s Going to the Flying Fist Ranch!!!!!!!!!

Gail Simone, writer of BIRDS OF PREY and an upcoming story arc in JLA: CLASSIFIED illustrated by José Luis García-López & Klaus Janson, has extended her exclusive agreement with DC Comics for two years.

Read the pulse pounding press release at The Pulse. Pun so NOT intended.

Every week here at the Flying Fist Ranch is an adventure. I mean that in the most literal sense. Ya never know what’s gonna happen, who’s gonna show up or where I’m gonna be headed. This week was no different.

As most of ya know I’ve been dedicatin’ the last few weeks to my very popular Five Manly Questions With… feature. It’s goin’ pretty good and it’s taken me to some very interestin’ places where I’ve talked to some pretty entertainin’ people. This week is no different.

Yet it was.

I usually know what to expect when I make these trips speak manly words with some of the comic book industry’s more colorful creators. This week I never saw the punch comin’.

The punch came from Gail Simone.

To see if Gail knocked Beau Smith on his back or just bloodied him, strap on your gloves and climb into the ring with Silver Bullet Comic Books

First of all, congratulations to us, the fans. This exclusive contract means that we have great BoP storylines for some time to come.

Second, congrats to Ms. Simone. She’s pretty excellent and she deserves it.

Third, sorry to everyone who loves Deadpool and/or wants a Simone Spidey story. You have a few years more to wait.

Finally, read the Five Manly Questions interview. It’s pretty great. Smith seems like a genuinely excellent fellow and Simone is very witty and then, turning on a dime, very thoughtful and insightful about the nature of “manliness”. Also, she hunts Bigfoot. I repeat, Bigfoot. If that is not one of the most boss hobbies ever, then I don’t know boss hobbies very well (don’t worry, comic books are a pretty boss hobby too).

Ultimate Riddler? Hasn’t Marvel Copyrighted That Term Yet?

In a story that takes place shortly before Batman: War Games, writer Shane McCarthy pits the Dark Knight Detective against the Riddler in a tale called “Riddle Me That.” The five-part story, drawn by Tommy Castillo, is currently running through the pages of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Part two is due in stores this week. McCarthy’s very excited about the story and said this story was written “at the same time as Hush” and that storyline didn’t really “have any influence” on his work. In Previews, DC solicits labeled this as “the ultimate Riddler story.” Will it live up to the hype?

Riddle me this, riddle me that, how can anyone who doesn’t go to The Pulse be considered a cool cat?

Before I even get into this article, I have to praise McCarthy for this line, “even in Australia where we have no electricity and ride Kangaroos everywhere”. The man has a sharp wit, you have got to give him that (yeah, you heard me. You HAVE to!).

I don’t know how the heck I missed this. Granted, I rarely pick up LotDK, but with the Riddler in it, you’d think I would have at least taken a gander. Much like McCarthy, I’ve always liked Riddler despite the fact that I have rarely read a Riddler story that I enjoyed. I think that, in part, is why I had no problem with Riddler ultimately being the mastermind in Loeb’s Hush storyline. Sure, it was a bit of a “hey, look, we pulled a rabbit out of our hats,” the clues might not have really added up, but Riddler as a dangerous manipulator? Sign me up!

The only thing is…well it’s kind of silly, but…I like the question mark suit. I don’t mind him reversing the color scheme (all black with green question marks) which would maintain generally the look Castillo created while still having that element. The tattoo is fine with me though.

When Middleton Comes, He Comes with The Thunder

It had been the question left open since the announcement that Joshua Middleton had signed an exclusive contract with DC – what will he draw? Come summer of next year, the answer will be very clear: First Thunder a four issue miniseries, written by Judd Winick that chronicles the first meeting of Superman and Captain Marvel, aka Shazam.

For Middleton, the choice of a project came after he had signed with the publisher, once the door was thrown open, and his options were laid out in front of him.

Shout SHAZAM out and go to Newsarama. It will give you superpowers, I swear.

Middleton does great work, there can be no doubt about that. My only issue here is, (and I am so sorry to say this, but…), that I don’t really care about or for Captain Marvel. Not to say he has not had moments, he has. His appearances in JSA, his role in Underworld Unleashed, him as an adult in Kingdom Come (duh!) are a few of the ones that I recall. However, these are, typically, just supporting role appearances. As a lead I find him…wanting. I know it makes me a bad guy, but it is honestly the truth.

Interestingly enough, Thunder is one of Janelle’s nicknames (so awarded to her by Tim Sheridan, Nexus Reviewer Par Excellence). Which leads us right into…

Comics Hit the Education System

There once was a time when comic books were at the bottom of the literary food chain. Children read them under the bedcovers with a flashlight, and parents and teachers decried their reliance on one-syllable exclamations: BAM! POW! WHAM!

But that was before a comic book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, before the term “graphic novel” came into vogue as a synonym and before video games became parents’ new archenemy.

Yes, I know you have to register to read an article at The Washington Post online, but whatever. We all should keep up on the news more anyway. Maybe this will encourage you to do so.

This article comes to you courtesy of Janelle, who has kind enough to find it and send it my way. She is also kind enough to tolerate my hobby and, in fact, occasionally read the stuff I put in her hands.

To this news story, I say, “Go Maryland.” I acknowledge that critics do make a point when they say that comic reading and straight text reading are not the same. I would not seek to argue that at all. What I would say is, “So what?” Although, if I was engaged in a debate, I would probably put it a little more intelligently. Reading a novel is a different experience then reading a newspaper then reading a textbook, but a teacher would wish to encourage all three, no? So why then would we discount comics from the equation because they are “different?” I am not suggesting that we phase out textbooks, novels, newspapers, etc. I am just saying that comics could provide a strong learning tool so why not tap it. If the popularity of reading for pleasure is dropping, isn’t time to try something new? As far as I am concerned any objections to giving comics a shot amounts to the same old prejudice against the medium.



Travis Clevenger could have easily ended a generic bad ass, a Wolverine without the claws, if you will. Thankfully, Jolley had a little more on his mind than that and Clevenger is shaping up to be quite an interesting character.

This month’s case in point is also my favorite moment of the issue. Clevenger, scrubbing the prison floor and saying “Invisible Touch”. I don’t know why that works for me, but it does.


A strong script (like that’s a surprise by now) sees Catwoman framed (most likely) for murder. Driver and Mac are on the case, with Driver getting more and more suspicious about Mac’s “gut” instincts. After the dissolution of her last partnership because of her gift, she is none too thrilled about the prospect of another member of the thin blue line figuring out how she does what she does.

I only have two complaints. Well, more like one complaint and an observation. Observation: Catwoman seems to get framed a lot for handgun murders and attempted murders. At least, a lot lately. Between Officer Down and this, Catwoman has been framed twice in about a year’s time (DCU time). Just interesting to me.

The complaint is the art. Jason Alexander (presumably not of ‘Listen Up’ and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II fame) is very erratic. Backgrounds are a very rare find and his faces are all rather lumpy and deformed (not unlike Ukrainian Opposition Leader Viktor Yushchenko’s current dioxin affected mug). It takes you out of the story at points and this is a story that is good enough to resent that sort of distraction.

JSA #68

There is a moment in this book that is so shockingly violent, such an act of complete and total personal destruction that I found myself utterly distracted by it throughout the rest of the issue. After going back to read it again, I can tell you that the rest of the issue is pretty good too. However, that one moment, those four pages…that is the issue for me. Everything before and after it could have been a child’s doodles of kittens in crayon and this book still would have left me floored. Proof positive that comics can still knock you on your back in this day and age.


I’ve got to applaud Grayson (the writer not the character) for ending this arc, and just prior to a hiatus besides, on such a downbeat. The temptation with these sorts of things is to wrap things up in a bow and leave the hero in fairly decent shape. However, Grayson does not go that easy or clichéd route and I think #100 is stronger for it. For those who haven’t enjoyed Dick’s fall from grace, the tone of this will probably do little to win you back. Gone is the near catatonic Nightwing we’ve been seeing since Blockbuster was killed, but the NW of old has not returned. Instead, it seems, Dick has turned in that crippling sadness and inability to act for a great big old chip on his shoulder. He’s grim like Bruce now, but he does it in a much different way. I dug, but, again, if you didn’t like what led up to this (excepting the War Games stuff, which was very hit or miss) there is little here to change your mind.

Well, it was still a shorter column, but hopefully it was worth your time. Next week is the last column before Christmas, so perhaps I’ll do something special. Not sure what yet though.

Until then…

Un Gajje Loves Apocalypse Now References