DC News and Views


It would be wrong and sort of despicable of me to lead with anything else but this:

While the immediate concern for the Gulf Coast and affected regions is the safety and health of those who were in the way of Hurricane Katrina, the livelihoods of comic retailers in the vast region which saw damage from the storm will be receiving support from both DC and presumably Marvel in the coming weeks.

In a statement released today, DC said that they will do all they can to help affected retailers get back on their feet when they are able to return to business.

Check out this and other comic benefits at Newsarama

There was a discussion on Fanboy Rampage that was started on September first (scan almost to the bottom of the page) about the effectiveness of these benefits as opposed to simple donating your money directly to the Red Cross or whomever. I understand Augie’s (the Comic Book Resources columnist who gets the discussion going) point. Of course, sending 3 dollars right to the Red Cross is more helpful than buying a three dollar comic that a portion of what you paid will go to help the hurricane victims. However, for me, it comes down to these two ideas. First, the comic companies are getting into the game. It would be wrong of them to see that people need help and not step up and offer a way for their books to translate into that help.

Second, people who buy the comic might not necessarily donate if not for this avenue. Almost all my friends who like comics bought “Heroes” the 9/11 benefit book that Marvel put out in 2001. However, many of them didn’t donate to any charities. It wasn’t out of cruelty or callousness I assure you. Some people just don’t think to donate or think to and forget about or…any number of reasons. A tangible item that serves as reminder on the shelf of a way to help will, more often than not, provide these forgetful folk with a means to give without having to find a website or mailing address, etc. If that amounts to only 100 people country-wide, well that’s one hundred people’s money that you wouldn’t have without the benefit comic. That’s my way of looking at it anyway.

Not to belabor this because I am sure that you, like I, have been inundated with it for days now, but please, do find a way to help. Money, blood, buying a benefit comic, donating to a telethon, volunteering, whatever. The mark of a strong society is how we take care of those who need our help the most. That’s all do one another proud.

And now onto silly, frivolous comic news.


The * in 52* Refers to These Guys

When we last spoke with DC’s Dan DiDio about 52* (working title), the weekly series spilling from the last issue of Infinite Crisis and filling the gap between the miniseries and the ongoing DCU series which will be set “One Year Later…”, he couldn’t say that much at all.

Oh what a difference a few weeks makes.

We caught up with DiDio again, and this time, we found him a little more forthcoming about who’s doing what, who’s drawing what, and who’ll be named the series’ honorary psycho before it’s all said and done.

Get out your telescope and peak this lineup in the sky over Newsarama

That’s quite a team. A comment that, of course, demonstrates my talent for understatement (read my piece on Dixon later in this column to see my talent for powerful overstatement).

What kills me are some of the comments in the talkback section, specifically, “I love Giffen, but this reeks of politics. DC trying to make up with all the JLI fans maybe? Hmmm….”. It is as if, since we now know there is no massive conspiracy against Giffen and the characters he’s famous for, it must be a massive conspiracy against JLI fans. That’s silly enough, but then to believe that DC would turn around and hire Giffen for this project a.) rends the idea of DC having an anti-JLI fans vendetta moot and b.) implies that DC is concerned with, specifically, JLI fans. This is a book, in case you forgot, that hasn’t been printed (beyond two minis) since the early 90’s. If DC was really worried about JLI fans would they have killed off several key members of the team in the past few months? It also diminishes Giffen, saying, in essence, that he couldn’t possibly have been hired on his talent alone. It must have been some bid to win back the hearts and minds of those twelve JLI fans who we actually upset enough to quit our books, not just act as if they were going to.

It’s just such a mind blowingly egocentric thing to say that it sticks in my craw a bit.


Grayson’s Victory Lap?

Devin Grayson has been around the industry long enough to know how it works. She’s had a strong presence in the Bat titles (Nightwing) for some time now and has her a creator-owned series, Matador, on shelves. Now, in this exclusive Comic Foundry interview, Grayson talks about what she’s learned from her time in the comic industry and gives insight to what’s it’s like to be a freelance writer.

See the scribe lay it all out at Comic Foundry

Watch as the interview takes a weird, but still interesting turn in Part 2

Is it just me or does it sound a lot like this is Devin Grayson’s farewell address? I know that a lot will change in DC post Infinite Crisis both within the DCU and within its creative teams and, if I’m reading this right, it seems pretty clear that Grayson’ run on Nightwing will almost certainly be ending and possibly her run of employment at DC which has included the Arsenal miniseries, Gotham Knights, Titans, and Nightwing. I can’t point to a specific quote that makes it seem this way, it is just the general tone and tenor of the piece, in part one.

If my impression is correct, I find myself at odds with how I feel about it. On the one hand, I had been drifting away from Nightwing when Grayson came aboard. Despite Dixon being an action comic genius, I thought that the book had really lost its flow since about the time that DC made the poor choice of putting Trevor McCarthy on art chores (the cover below is one of his, in my opinion, less awkward pieces. Note, in particular, the faces)

Even Grayson’s first arc, focusing on a globe trotting Nightwing chases Bludhaven’s Police Commissioner’s wife, failed to change my mind about that. Giving the book one last shot, however, I was quickly drawn into Grayson’s overarching story plans, regardless of its “Born Again” pastiche. I was, and remain, surprised by how many people seemed to react poorly to it. Dick’s “rape” (it was heavily implied, but never clear if she did more than merely straddle him) at the hands of Tarantula was particularly angering it seemed. I didn’t quite understand that reaction either. I understand that rape is a horrible crime, but so is torture, murder, assault, etc and we rarely take issue with those things being depicted in comics. But, that’s probably a whole other musing, so we’ll move on.

In any case, Grayson successfully reinvigorated my interested in a title I was all but done with. Then came the “Year One” break and this new storyline. I like the concept of Dick deep undercover and unable to keep his heart out of the game. However, I find it increasingly difficult to get over the fact that he is using his real name and has not yet aborted even though he knows that his work will pull him into the Society (from Villains United) and leave him and Batman very vulnerable to exposure because of Deathstroke’s knowledge of his secret identity. Worse is that the dramatic pull of the story, will Dick be able to turn in his new surrogate family when the time comes, was tossed out the window a few months back when police raided their home and killed the patriarch. So, a good idea has become buried and I find myself losing interest once again.

However, I think Grayson has done great work for DC, particularly in the Bat-verse, and would hate to see them lose her talent. I almost suggested she take over Outsiders, but then I realized she kind of already did write that book. It was called Titans. And it was bad. So maybe that isn’t such a good idea after all.

In the end, I suppose this is all just guesswork at this point anyway so you can take it all with a healthy dose of salt.


No One Calls Dixon a Zero on My Watch, Dammit

This December, writer Chuck Dixon and artist Dough Mahnke will be taking a trip back in time… in the Wildstorm Universe.

Team Zero is a six-issue mini-series that will delve headfirst into a “kid-gloves-off” mission featuring a team of non-super-powered soldiers in World War II who become the predecessors for the modern-day Wildstorm group Team Seven.

Already forewarning of a high-body count and plenty of straight-up tough-guy action, we took a few minutes to catch up with Dixon concerning the origin of the series, the lack of faux-sappiness readers can expect, and how a WWII war-tale draws chilling parallels to current events in the mind of the writer…

Prepare yourself for awesomeness at Newsarama

You know, to be honest, I’m not really all that interested in the idea or plot of this title or the “world” of Wildstorm proper these days (Planetary being the exception). However, this is written by Dixon so I feel like I should, nay, I must, pimp it with all my heart.

Thus, I offer the following quote, “Move over, The Bible! There’s a new “Greatest Story Ever Told” on the block this fall. Team Zero is coming, and it’s shooting down the walls of heartache. BANG BANG! God is good, God is great, but he’s no Dixon. Lock up the wife, bring the kids to the neighbors because this story is gonna blow you away. Three dollars gets you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge!”


Break Out the Champagne

Above all else, DC Comics’ Justice Society Of America has stood for legacy and family amid a sea of superhero comics where characters are constantly in danger of losing both. On a creative level, the same has been true, as writer Geoff Johns first began as co-writer of “JSA” after its first story arc and became full time writer when David Goyer left. Now longtime inker Keith Champagne inherits the writer mantle for an upcoming “JSA” story arc (from #78-#80) that will change the titular team forever… before writer Geoff Johns comes back to do it again. CBR News spoke with Champagne about his run and his perspective on the Justice Society themselves.

Keith ain’t no Crisal…he’s better at Comic Book Resources

What’s sad is that I am pretty sure I’ve used that exact headline once before. So sad.

Anyway, enough about my profound lack of creativity.

Ugh, I hate interviews where they can’t even tell you which members of the superhero team the title is named for will be involved in the issue. Or a vague plot outline. Or, anything, really besides what was in the solicitations and “trust me, it isn’t a fill-in. Well, it is, but it’s an important fill-in.” I have no reason to doubt that he’s being honest with us. In fact, I’m almost positive he is. The thing is that it is hard enough to get excited for a fill-in issue or arc, especially when the regular team includes uber-scribe Geoff Johns (see the most recent issue of Teen Titans for an example), if you can’t give us a little something to get the blood pumping. I may not speak for all of comicdom here, but Jakeem and the Thunderbolt are all well and good, but they are hardly characters that are guaranteed to make me check out an issue of a random comic. In other words, I’m sure this will do just fine with us JSA folk, but it’ll be a damn near impossible sell with this little information to anyone else. Not necessarily a bad thing as JSA does consistently sell pretty well, but more books sold is always a nice thing, I think. Oh well. For now, color me vaguely interested based on the JSA brand alone. Hopefully, as more details become available, my excitement for Champagne’s short stint will rise.


Mayor Hundred Gives In to Big Business

EX MACHINA #13, the second part of the stunning 3-part tale “Fact vs. Fiction,” has sold out at DC Comics. The issue, by the Eisner Award-winning team of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artists Tony Harris & Tom Pfeister, arrived in stores on July 20.

Have your heart broken as the Great Machine sells out at Newsarama

Awesome. Thanks to everyone who buys this book because as long as you do, I can continue to enjoy it without fear of it being cancelled. A book this good that is still gaining readers thirteen issues in is rare and warms the cuckolds of my tiny, dark, crippled heart.


COMING ATTRACTIONS

VILLAINS UNITED #5

Deadshot v. Catman! The possible reveal of who is Mockingbird! Eaglesham art! Simone writing!

SEVEN SOLDIERS GUARDIAN #4

My current favorite Seven Soldiers mini pulls into its conclusion. I’m banking on this issue being just as good as the previous three and to offer a far more satisfying conclusion than Shining Knight.

GOTHAM CENTRAL #35

“Dead Robin” is quickly rising to take its place alongside “Half a Life” and “Unresolved’ as one of the banner arcs of Gotham Central. I was all but done with this book two months ago, but I find myself considering keeping my commitment to it going following this arc.


OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I

FLASH #225

This issue/storyline suffers a bit from Grant Morrison on JLA syndrome. There are two great plots here: the Rogue War and the “final” faceoff between Hunter and Wally. The problem is that they’ve proven two big for this one arc and they clash and overwhelm one another in this concluding chapter. The Rogue War portion of it ends a little too cleanly and neatly, with the Rogues all being nicey nice again, Piper not falling over to the dark side, and the reader finding out who Captain Boomerang’s mom is (but not the Rogues). The Zoom/Flash conflict gets the bigger part of the stick with both Flashes triumphing over their opposite numbers in the past and present (with some interesting side effects). The storytelling and the art is strong, but the issue is over stuffed. Another issue or two or two separate four or so issue arcs might have been better suited to realizing Johns’ big plans.

SEVEN SOLDIERS SHINING KNIGHT #4

Eh. Beyond the portrayal of Galahad the Corrupt (in both writing and art), there was little in this issue that I really felt much about. My least favorite of the Seven Soldiers minis from the beginning offered up what was probably my least favorite issue of this series. For such a desperate, dangerous situation, Justin gets out with reasonable ease. Galahad, the greatest knight of all, has clearly lost a few steps since he was broken by the Sheeda as he is dealt with rather handedly. I will give props to Don Vincenzo who has proven the most interesting human character (beyond that poor detective from issue #3) and only adds to that here.

EX MACHINA #14

Great stuff. I love the flashback sequence that puts a bittersweet spin on the present for all involved (as well as highlighting Mitchell’s brief love affair with facial hair) and is so comic book dorky that I could almost picture my friends and I in a similar discussion. In fact, the characterization in modern times was pretty seamless as well. Nice to see Kremlin as always and Mitchell’s Clark Kent looking legal advisor/childhood friend gains some depth in the process.

Something to think about. If the “crazy” juror does not have a wife, who did he call two issues ago? Was he really lying or is the truth of his situation being covered up in much the same way as the truth about the subway killings was covered up at the conclusion of “Tag”? I smell massive conspiracy.


I am just about out of time here, but before I go, a note about Neon the Unknown. Apparently the costume I displayed last week was actually the costume for another Neon, a villain from Superboy. So, the internet and the DC Encyclopedia were both wrong about Neon’s duds. He did wear four different costumes over his brief career but apparently none of them was that one. However, if I was to write Neon, he would rock that costume and I would simply go back, Johns style, and link the Superboy villain Neon with the Golden Age Neon and the magic lake. And big ups to Ben Morse for calling my attention to that.

Now, I am done. It’s been quiet on the Message Board so please stop by and buy us a visit or shoot me an e-mail at parallax2@juno.com to let me know what you think of the column. Thanks in advance for the feedback.

Un Gajje Doesn’t Have the Words