DC News & Views

Another big column this week. Hopefully those slow news days are behind us and it will be the salad days until next fall. We shall see.

Anyway, besides the normal trappings, we have a Nostalgia Time that provides a look back at an underused character who just recently got a piece of the spotlight. But first…NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWS!

Titans Fans, Prepare to Gently Weep

A preview of his versions of the characters got people…talking to say the least. Come August, Rob Liefeld will jump over to DC’s Teen Titans for a two-issue guest-stint, illustrating a story written by Gail Simone, and featuring the new Hawk & Dove.

While we’ve seen his art, we caught up with the creator for a quick chat and surprising facts about his history with the Teen Titans.

Hand the Titans community a kleenex at Newsarama

I never read X-Force or New Mutants or Hawk and Dove. I steered clear of his recent return to Marvel and I never ever picked up an issue of his Image work. Heck, I don’t even acknowledge that whole Heroes Reborn thing from many a moon ago. So Rob is basically a blank slate to me. I haven’t built up the level of hate for him that so many have. For me he is just…eh. I do appreciate his commitment to showing me every bone in a character’s nose though. And yes, that’s supposed to be cartilage, not bone, but whatever. His dedication to it is still impressive.

Anyway, like I said, Rob is whatever to me. Also, there is no denying that he is enthusiastic. He really is a big Titans fan and obviously quite excited to finally get a chance to depict them. That’s cool. It is always nice to see a creator just go all fanboy about an assignment. It’s almost enough to make me say, “hey, maybe this is the time I give Liefeld a shot.”

But it’s not.

See, there is a reason I haven’t read any of his work before this and it isn’t just because the bulk of it occurred before I was really into comics or that a lot of it had to do with mutants. It’s his style. I just don’t care for it. The guy, enthusiastic or not, hasn’t evolved in so many years. Compare his work today from his work at early Image and it is stunning how difficult it is to tell what came from what era. So, great for Rob, I’m happy for him. I think it is very cool that he is achieving his dream job. I just don’t think choosing him was a great call.

On the other hand, his collaborator is Gail Simone and I have all sorts of enthusiasm for her. So maybe this will all turn out okay.

Nice of You to Join Us, DOV

The Spectre returns to the DCU in DAY OF VENGEANCE #1, which sold out at DC Comics over a week before arriving in stores on April 27.

Now, DC sends this issue back to press for a new printing featuring a powerful new color cover by comics legend Walter Simonson!

See the underachiever (thus far) of the Infinite Crisis minis finally take his seat at the big boy table in Newsarama cafe.

All the DC minis have great covers…except for this one. Neither the original or the Simonson (although I have nothing but love for the man, that cover…) one have any real pop to them, in my anything but humble opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of guy to pass over a book because the cover is not so hot, I just noticed that of all the books revolving around Infinite Crisis this one seemed to get the short end of the stick, cover wise. Glad to see that hasn’t limited its sales.

Anytime DC can sellout of a book who’s lead characters are folks like Blue Devil, Ragman, and Detective Chimp…that is a cause for celebration, I tell you what.

Call the Corps, Fantastic Corps!

Like you thought Hal Jordan was coming back alone.

With the currently developing return of Hal Jordan to the status of Earth’s Green Lantern with the May debut of DC’s new Green Lantern series, there’s an obvious piece of the larger Green Lantern picture that needs to be addressed – the Corps.

That is, the thousands of Green Lanterns scattered throughout the galaxy (and under the leadership of the Guardians of Oa) that strive to keep order and protect innocents from oppression. They were destroyed when Hal Jordan went nuts, so, now that he’s back, it only makes sense that they’d be back as well, right?


Starting in September, writer Dave Gibbons and penciler Patrick (Aquaman) Gleason will team on the five issue limited series (with an extra-length issue #1) Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and re-establish the Corps to its rightful place in the DC Cosmos.

We caught up with Gibbons to talk about the Corps, the gig, and space in general.

Travel the far reaches of the galaxy to find Newsarama

First of all, I just have to say how great it is to see Dave Gibbons doing steady DC work again. Not to say that his non-steady DC work is bad. In fact, it is not meant as commentary on Gibbons at all. It’s just that, as an industry, comics can often be pretty rough on the older creators. Sort of biting the hand that once fed them. So to see Dave Gibbons of Watchmen come back to the fold after several years warms my heart and makes me think the comic “industry” does have a memory.

By the by, on a semi-unrelated note, does it seems a good idea to anyone else that the comic book community get together and establish a union ala the Screen Actors or Screenwriters Guild? Not so much for the union contract negotiation aspect of it, but for the purposes of health insurance and the like. Just having seen what Cockrum and Messner-Loebs (amongst others) have gone through these past few years, it does not seem like a bad idea at all. Since comics have increasingly become part of the fabric of American entertainment (regardless of unit sales) and also more of a business, perhaps it is about time that we start to reflect the other entertainment businesses in this way as well.

Or maybe this sort of thing already exists and I am not aware of it. Anyone out there know for sure?

As for the series…well, we have come full circle now. Gone is the idea that many GLs renders them not special. In fact, DC is doubling their numbers! For me, it will come down to storytelling. Like any idea, it is possible for someone to write good enough stories to convince me that the Corps should be around. It is possible for them to convince me that it should be Kyle in space, not Hal. And so on. But I will need to be convinced.

Terrified of the Past

This summer the world will be introduced to the menace of Jonathan Crane AKA the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow is one of the villains Batman must contend with when the Dark knight returns to the silver screen in June with the eagerly anticipated “Batman Begins.” Because he’s a movie star, the Scarecrow is getting his own two issues prestige format series, but he must share the spotlight with his archenemy. The series, “Year One: Batman/Scarecrow,” is by Bruce Jones and artist Sean Murphy begins in May. CBR News spoke to Jones via e-mail about the project.

Go on over to Comic Book Resources. Go ahead. Do it. What are you, scared? Are you some sort of chicken? Scaredy-cat?

I’ve been burned by Bruce Jones before. First by the majority of his stint of Incredible Hulk (I liked the first two or three arcs, if I recall correctly) and then by giving him another shot when he did the Hulk/Thing mini. I’d like to see I’ve learned from my mistakes. I would…but damn…I just want to read a good Scarecrow story so bad, I might end up checking this out.

The Scarecrow, like Riddler or Two-Face (up until the past five years or so) is a character that I really like who has never seemed to have gotten a comic book story worthy of my “feelings” toward them. In Batman: The Animated Series there were a few, but comic wise…none spring to mind. Maybe that Milligan New Year’s Evil one shot? I seem to remember actually being a bit disappointed by that, but maybe I’m wrong. So maybe just maybe this will be the one that breaks that streak.

Unfortunately, the preview pages don’t feel me with hope. I don’t love Murphy’s choices on Scarecrow’s ever changing costumed look and the scene of Batman in the bar has him speaking a bit out of character. Then there is the whole Year One aspect. I’m not opposed to Year One stories at all, I just would really like a strong modern take on the Scarecrow. Of course if this series is very good, I’m sure that that complaint will dissipate.

I was curious about Vigilante as well, so it was heartening to hear Jones say that he has finished the scripts for it. That does not tell me when we’ll get a chance to read it, but I am hoping that with him being done the answer to that question is “soon”.

She’s the Purrrrrrrrrrrrrfect Protector

The residents of Gotham’s City’s East End needed a hero they could believe in. Many East Enders couldn’t turn to Gotham’s champion, Batman, for help out of fear that he might hunt them down too. When writer Ed Brubaker took over DC Comics’ “Catwoman” he gave the people of the East End a hero they could identify with, one who also happened to be a villain. With Brubaker signing an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics, a new writer has moved into the East End. CBR News spoke with new “Catwoman” writer Will Pfeifer about the character and what new challenges await her in her continuing role as protector of the toughest neighborhood in Gotham City.

Lay out the catnip mouse toy and wait for Comic Book Resources to come to you.

It sounds like Pfeiffer has a very good handle on the character of Catwoman and, from the preview pages, that he has an interest with a quality style aiding and abetting his plans. Looks like this could very well be a worthy successor to Brubaker’s run.

Power Girls (Women?)

Amanda Conner is no stranger to drawing beautiful, powerful women. With her work on titles like Vampirella, The Pro and Birds of Prey, she’s established herself as an artist who has a knack for capturing the sometimes quirky and often feisty personalities of the comic world’s most voluptuous female superheroes.

So who better to tackle the task of penciling Power Girl’s origin story in July’s JSA Classified? After all, when you think of Power Girl, you think of two things — who is she and where does she come from? Okay, maybe there are a couple other things that enter your mind first. After all, Karen Starr is one of the most curvaceous superheroes in any universe, and with Power Girl, “feisty” is putting it mildly. This shapely lady is one of the strongest yet more quick-tempered heroes in DC.

See NOW with superpowers at Newsarama

Two Power Girl articles in two weeks? Dag! Never thought I’d see that happen.

I don’t have much invested in the origin of Power Girl. I, of course, know that is convoluted, but I’ve never been so involved with the character that the fact that I couldn’t find one definitive origin really bothered me.

Still, I just know that with Johns at the helm, this will not disappoint those who do place stock in that. It has been mentioned roughly a billion times by now, but he is the man who managed to hash out Hawkman’s continuity, so really, it would appear that he can make damn near anything make sense and “work”.

But this article is not about him, now is it? So onto Ms. Connors art.

Nice stuff. It has a soft cartoony quality to it. Sadly there is not a whole lot of it here by which to judge, but what’s there looks more than competent.

Car Goes Left, Car Goes Left, Car Goes Left…

This summer is loaded with huge, big budget, heavy special effects laden popcorn films making it one of the most exciting summers in recent history for event movies. Films like “Fantastic Four,” “War of the Worlds,” “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” “Star Wars Episode III” and “Batman Begins” will all be competing for the number one position at the box office. Already, the marketing campaigns for each have been fierce with marketing campaigns going wide almost four months in advance for some films.

Hit the motor speedway in style at Comic Book Resources

I’ve never gotten the appeal of car racing as a watchable sport. Janelle’s step family is really into it so I asked them, but…they were less than helpful at illuminating the subject. Can anyone else explain it to me? Anyone?


Benes to Serve the Cause Three More Years

Acclaimed artist Ed Benes, whose run on SUPERMAN begins with next month’s issue #217 (MAR050384), has extended his exclusive agreement with DC Comics for an additional three years.

Do you like press releases? Then you will love visiting this Newsarama link.

Smart call for DC. If you think the guy is good enough to draw your flagship hero, he’s good enough to give a three year contract to. Huzzah to all involved.

Superhero Crossfire

The world’s greatest superheroes commenting on issues that matter.

Moderated by J’onn McJ’onnz
Email snark, gossip, cookies and anything else to: martianrampage@jla.org


Wonder Woman
Green Arrow
Teen Titans

Peak in on heroes when they stop being polite and start getting real at Buzzscope. My apologies to MTV, the Real World, and you the readers for using that hackneyed device as a transition.

This one comes to us courtesy of Ben Morse (he is incomparable, you know) and it was just so entertaining I couldn’t not share it with all of you. My favorites was the mocking of Dr. Palmer (you know, the Atom) and Warren Ellis’s surprise appearance. Funny stuff.


Although DC Comics claimed the top spot in March with its low-priced COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS special, it was not a terribly inspiring month for the publisher. SUPERMAN remained in the Top Ten, but its other two top-sellers, SUPERMAN/ BATMAN and GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH, again missed their shipping dates, leaving the rest of the Top 25 to Marvel Comics.

DC Comics’ new launches in March included the limited series LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL, SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN, SEVEN SOLDIERS: SHINING KNIGHT and THE HUMAN RACE, the new ongoing title BLOOD OF THE DEMON, as well as OTHERWORLD and LEGEND, from the company’s Vertigo and WildStorm imprints, respectively. Also featured this month are Aspen Comics’ SOULFIRE, Dark Horse Comics’ CONAN and Top Cow Productions’ RISING STARS, among other titles.

Because Diamond Distributors started providing data on actual sales back in March 2003, we can now include two-year comparisons. Additionally, as ICv2.com’s estimates go back to March 2001, this month’s column also features three-year and four-year comparisons. However, please bear in mind that the estimates from March 2001 to March 2003 were for initial orders only, rather than actual sales, so those comparisons should be taken with a bigger grain of salt than usual.

Many thanks to Milton Griepp and and ICv2 for allowing us to use their figures for these calculations. An overview of ICv2.com’s statistics can be found here:


Look, we have an all new “official” header for sales figures. It’s green (like money) and has a dollar sign instead of an “s”. Tres creative, no? That alone should persuade you to go to The Pulse to see the latest ups and downs of your favorite titles. Well, that and the crippling depression.



The art is beautiful. The writing is top notch (and I have never really liked an Azzarello project before this). The best part, though, is just how excellent Luthor is portrayed here. He is walking ambiguity. There are so many shades of grey and no easy answers to be found. Nice to see a book that setups a situation and then stays faithful to the premise be offering no easy answers.

Plus, this issue has Bruce Wayne/Batman. Let’s see if Azz can nail him this time out.


I’m a bit of a groupie for well told villain stories (see above) or even mediocre ones. This one is written by Simone, so chances are it will fall into the former category. Plus it is all tied into the big event that will rock the DCU to its core. How could I not highlight this one?



Iain Burnside might hate this latest issue and think the Batman is being “a little b!+ch” but for me, this is the best Bat title out there. I like that it is telling its own story while still acknowledging and using bits and pieces of what is going on in the DCU proper. I have always enjoyed the Bats/Green Arrow vaguely antagonistic/grudgingly respectful relationship (see The Poison Tomorrow for a great example of this) and there is a strong scene that adds a dimension to it in this issue. That, plus Batman is mucho harsh to Zatanna.

Yup, it is all very passive aggressive. But like that hasn’t been Batman’s style for 10 years? Things are quite obviously coming to a head and I’m enjoying how Winick is playing with that idea to ratchet up the tension.

The only issue I had this time out is why Batman is now investigating the Lazarus Pit. Obviously he suspects the identity of the Red Hood. However, it is such a leap from last issue that I went back to it just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I get that he’s the world’s greatest detective, but wouldn’t it be nice to see him prove it rather than just have us take your word for it?


DOV’s inaugural effort is…not bad. Good enough to persuade me to buy issue #2, but not enough to get me really jazzed about it. Willingham does a nice job with getting into Ragman’s head for the narration (speaking of which, check out Retro Reviews for a review of the 8 issue Ragman limited series from the early 90’s. It’s called synergy folks…its called synergy) and the appearance of Detective Chimp was suitably amusing (without being overly cheesy). Beyond that though…it felt a little thin. A ton of DC’s magical characters appear but they don’t have a whole lot to do or a whole lot that makes them standout as unique, no matter how cool it may be to see Animal Man (or whoever you favorite obscure person in the bar was). Similarly, the list of those hurt, transformed, or killed is impressive, but not very visceral. There is too much talking, not enough showing. Since this is, for my money, Justiniano’s finest art effort to date, why not let him show it off more often? The Spectre/Blackbriar dust up proves he can do it and hopefully, in subsequent issues, we can have more than a double splash page to see it.

FLASH #221

Great stuff. Loud, explosive, vibrant, and intense. Johns acknowledges that there are no heroes amongst the Rogues, “reformed” or not. In some ways, the “good” Rogues are even more disturbing and distasteful than Captain Cold and Company. At least they have a weird sense of family loyalty going for them. The other side seems to only be in it for revenge or to protect their legacy. Heat Wave in particular is…let’s say spooky. His brief mourning of a raging fire that Flash puts out is very unnerving and a definite foreshadowing that this is not going to be a clean happy ending.


It is rare that I am happy to see a series end, but this one I could not be more pleased to see go. And what an underwhelming ending it is. Green Arrow and Eddie=wasted. The fight between Shiva and Dragon=weak, especially considering twelve issues have been leading up to this. And the resolution of the Neron “deal”=really? That’s it?

Hopefully Dixon and McDaniel can move on to projects worthy of their talent now because this one just wasn’t.


Read the review here.


This is, in my humble opinion, the single best issue of either Sleeper season. It’s fast, it’s brutal and it is absolutely dripping in noir fatalism. Holden still has a card in his hand and it’s a doozy. However, he manages to overplay it and things get very messy (and very sad) very quickly. I cannot wait for the last issue and the “big” confrontation, especially as, quite obviously, no matter how it ends up, Holden will have lost.



God, I missed Brian Stelfreeze. His art is just beautiful minimalism. The effect is increased by the coloring palette (applied by Stelfreeze himself) which uses several shade of blue for background thus making the protagonist’s red hair and the Matador’s crimson inner cape pop off the page. Gorgeous.

Storywise, it is an intriguing start. The Matador is a bit of a Candyman/Keyzer Soze fairytale of the underworld figure. It’s not exactly new, but a good premise is a good premise. Plus, the characters are alive enough that they involve you in the story even if it is a bit clichÃ???????Ã??????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â(c). Grayson’s decision to hold back on words at certain moments is also quite astute as it creates a wonderfully lyrical and violent sequence that closes the book in silence. Sometimes the key to a moment is not talking it away and Grayson definitely “got” that idea in this issue’s finale.

NOSTAGLIA TIME (Brought to You from the Good People at Bantam Classics)

Ragman #1-8

The extent of my Ragman knowledge amounted to, before I read this mini, a two issue appearance in Batman during the Kelley Jones era (you will recall the 12 foot high ears that characterized that period). However, I once made the suggestion on the Nexus message boards that I thought he’d be great for a Vertigo relaunch. Tim Sheridan saw it, called me a big nerd (which he was right to), and after that it became the running joke that I LOVED Ragman. I didn’t of course. I barely knew the man. But it was funny, so why not.

In any case, flash forward to this past weekend and local comic book emporium Buried Under. They have a bargain rack in the center of the store that offers collections of mini series or arcs in books for low prices. The Ragman mini was there for just over a dollar an issue so, of course, I had to get it. This led to an awkward conversation with a worker at the shop during which time he revealed to me that a.) the origin in this series is vastly different than Ragman’s original origin, b.) that every page was a nine panel layout, even when it was a splash page (as it turned out, he’s a liar. Nearly every page is nine panels, but, of course, the splash pages are not), c.) that Ostander wrote it (he was also a liar on this score. Giffen plotted it and Robert Loren Fleming scripted itÃ??????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?¢??this was a continuation of their time with the Aquaman book) and d.) he owns four copies of this mini. No reason was offered for that last one and frankly, I was far too frightened to ask.

So after successfully dodging Ragman’s biggest fan and reading the whole mini, I thought I’d share a review with all of you, especially since Ragman is all front and center in one of DC’s biggest minis. Alright? Okay? Here we go.

What Worked

The new origin for one. The four person/circus performers angle sound damn silly to even give voice to and I can’t imagine it would have translated much better on the page. Plus, the tweaked origin allows for loads more atmosphere and a chance to ground Ragman in a deeper, richer tradition. Specifically, his connection to World War II Jewish people and the Holocaust which allows for Rory Regan (the Ragman in question) to rediscover his Jewish heritage and what his father went through during his life in the Warsaw ghetto.

While the nine panel thing is not the genius move Ragman Fan #1 would have made me believe (more on this later) there is no denying that Pat Broderick (and later Romeo Tanghal) are both great draftsman. Their depiction of what could have easily been a very laughable costume more than sells it and their face work is strong (with one notable exception we’ll discuss later).

The climax of issue #8 where Ragman achieves his larger goal, one of inspiration, is cheesy, but in a nice way. It is the typical, “you want to get to him, you have to come through me” thing that we see often in superhero portrayals, but it does have a sort of primal quality to it and given the Ragman’s back story, it is a logical evolution of the character.

Finally, a shout out must be given to two compelling characterizations. One is of Batman in full out “this is my city” mode. In the final issue, he speaks almost no words, but there is no doubt what a force he is. The other is the Golem, the clay version of Ragman. He has been alive for over 40 years by the time he arrives in Gotham City and almost human. However, the Ragman’s reactivation means that the Golem is slowly losing his humanity, as exemplified by his lack of face (now gone) and his inability to speak (which he was this close to achieving, he tells often). So the Golem must either accept his fate as obsolete or render his opponent thusly. Since he is nearly human, his desire for self preservation is strong. Over the course of the battle between the two, the Golem proves that he is human for an entirely other reason as he ditches his desire to save himself and becomes only concerned with helping Rory regain control of his Tatterdemalion alter ego.

What Didn’t

The nine panel layout works very well at points, nicely conveying the claustrophobia of the inner city, Rory being saddled with being a junk dealer, a position he hates, and Rory’s limited worldview when in the rags. However, there are sometimes the art should really cut loose and it barely ever does. The nine panel idea is fine as long as it works and at some points it just doesn’t.

As an interesting side note, at one point a fan writes in to say that he doesn’t love the nine panels. Likes the series, not such a fan of the grid. What’s weird is that the editor snaps back something to the effect of, “Look, I’m sick of people complaining about this. Just deal. At least we don’t have artistic excess.” It is so weird to read because, first, most negative letters are never responded to in kind by the editors and second, because of what he labels “excess”. Can you imagine a comic book industry today where almost every page was the grid?

Characterization wise, Giffen and Fleming make a mistake with Rory’s mentor, the Rabbi. He’s far too stereotypically “Jewish” with his word choices and the manner in which he speaks. He is constantly doing the “fine, be rude to me, see if I ever help you again” thing that TV writers so love to do with Jewish characters (especially Mom’s). It never falls away to give depth to the character so even when he is mournful for his role in Rory’s transformation, there is no emotional connection to his suffering. Also in the characterization arena, I have to mention that while I liked the Golem, his umpteen references to his inability to speak got very old very quick.

Another error in judgment are the Mime and Nats gangs. There is something very Warriors about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, I get a kick out of the Warriors. But for that sort of things to work, you really need to go for it. Warriors works because the whole “universe” is built for those theme gangs to exist in. Here, they are just dropped into a poor section of Gotham and they are too outlandish to bring out any sort of fear or concern.

Artistically, there is the strange case of Molly. Molly throughout the last issues of the book makes several references to JFK and having worked for him. She also, at one point, considers that if only she had cleaned herself up and stopped living on the street earlier perhaps she and Rory’s Dad could have been something to each other. All this is well and good except she looks like she is Rory’s age. In order to work for JFK and then lose everything and end up homeless, she’d have to be, at least, in her fifties. Plus, if she was wanting to shack with Rory’s Dad, one would assume she’d be at least closer in age to the man who was probably in his sixties or seventies given his son’s age and the fact that he was Ragman during WWII.

Finally, there is Howard Pratt, the puppet master and main antagonist of the book. In trying for a Lex Luthor-esque hero of industry, crush the little guy villain, the team falls far short. Pratt is depicted as largely ineffectual and never the cause for much concern. He is basically neutered as a crime boss by issue #3 although he hangs about for the next four before anyone tries to take him down. The Batman/Ragman battle in issue #8 felt like a much better duel of equally matched individuals than the eventual toppling of Pratt. Batman was a legitimate challenge for Ragman, Pratt never was.

Stand Out Issue

It’s a toss up between the Golem/Ragman throwdown of issue #6 and the near silent dance between Batman and Ragman in issue #8. For Ragman characterization, issue #8 wins out by far, but for general quality of story, both are basically neck and neck. It seems that Fleming’s stories were at their best when he relied on inner monologue as opposed to dialogue.

Bottom Line

From the list of What Didn’t Work, you’d think I really disliked this book, but I didn’t. It definitely shows its age in places and Fleming’s dialogue often leads much to be desired. However, the art though constrained is strong and the new ideas injected into the character are very interesting. There is much territory to be mined in the conflict between Rory and his suit and the history behind is very fertile ground for exploration. It is a surprise to me that Ragman has been in a sort of hibernation for the most part since this series hit because it seems to me that a lot of good writers could have a great time with the character and what could still be explored about him. I don’t wholeheartedly recommend it, but if you can find it for 10 dollars for all eight, as I did, it is worth a look.

Well, there we go, that’s it. The biggest News & Views in some time. Hope you all enjoyed it. And I hope you enjoyed it (or even hated it) enough to give me feedback via e-mail at parallax2@juno.com (or just click the link below) or to hit the message boards. Perhaps you can tell me about the appeal of car racing, how you feel about a comic creator union, or recommend a few good Scarecrow (or Riddler stories for that matter) to me. Big thanks in advance.

Un Gajje has seen the enemy. Don’t worry though. He took care of it.