The Gold Standard #25

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I think the world just caved in on itself, and that the fires of its molten core have shot out like many an Apokolips Fire Pit.

Judd “The Scourge of DC” Winick is writing Batman.

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A very special issue of Green Lantern

While Judd has been known for a few good books over the years, such as Exiles and Green Lantern and Outsiders, he’s quite a bit more famous for moments then he is for consistency. Like Kyle Rayner’s assistant Terry being savagely beaten, near to death, for being gay. Or for giving Mia Dearden, Oliver Queen’s new ward, HIV. In fact, most comic message boards will note that in every book he writes there’s a gay character. And while yes, that is an exaggeration, and no, I won’t say it bothers me (for fucks sake, I read Manhunter. EVERYONE in that book was gay), it is something of a trademark for him. He wrote Exiles and Sunfire was a lesbian. In Green Lantern, Kyle’s assistant was having issues coming out. In Outsiders, he paired up Thunder and Grace. That’s just Judd,  he likes to write gay characters. Dwayne McDuffie likes to write black ones, do we bitch about him for doing it? Not at all.

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Grace and Thunder

What we do bitch about, on the other hand, is shoddy writing. Like Titans. Like most of Green Arrow. Like his Batman.

Wait, what’s wrong with his Batman? He brought back Jason Todd!

Nuff Said.

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A very special issue of Green Arrow

Then again, in the sum up for the Con, we did have this little tidbit.

Winick joked that he’s the most reviled writer in comics who rams his agenda on books and characters and makes characters gay. He then ran down a list of events readers will expect from his title (noting that it was a work of satire): Batman and Robin fully explore their relationship, Blue Beetle returns from the dead, Jason Todd, dead again; Jason Todd alive again; Barbara Gordon walks again, Barbara Gordon loses the use of her legs; Batwoman permanent guest star; Bruce Wayne is elected Mayor of Gotham City and outlaws heterosexual marriages in a storyline called, “Judd Winick Wins Another GLAAD Award;” G’nort, and Bat-Mite: dead; Superman and Batman explore their relationship to the fullest in a story title “You Be My Midnighter and I Will be Your Apollo.”

I do respect a man who can make fun of himself.

I’m going to buy it, believe it or not. His Titan is horrible, but I gave it three issues. Sure, it may have been three issues too many, but I still felt he deserved it. Batman will get the same treatment.

So that’s one of my Bat predictions that I’ve gotten wrong, and another was revealed as well as Paul Dini was announced as the writer for Streets of Gotham instead of my prediction of Mark Andreynko. At the same time, Gotham City Sirens is going to be written by Paul Dini, so I’m one for three. And to make this more awesome? Streets of Gotham is going to be illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, who was Dini’s artist on Detective Comics. Dustin was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, born to draw Batman and Gotham City. I’ve seen him on other titles, but his work on the Bat is just perfect in every way that matters.

That’s kinda cool, actually. Right now I’m looking at my upcoming books that I’m hyped about, and for the most part, they’re all DC. Let’s take a look at what Grey is hot for in 09.

  • Flash: Rebirth
  • Blackest Night
  • Battle for the Cowl
  • World of New Krypton
  • Messiah War
  • Uncanny X-Men vs Dark Avengers by Matt Fraction
  • The next two (maybe three!) Starman Omnibus’s
  • The Unwritten by Mike Carey
  • Power Girl
  • Spider-Woman (the motion comic, not the overpriced one)
  • Superman: Secret Origin
  • Adventure Comics
  • Keith Giffen’s Doom Patrol
  • Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Metal Men (the back up stories in Doom Patrol, two for one!)
  • War of Kings

There’s more, but that’s a pretty hefty list. Mainly DC too. Not because I’m some major DC fanboy…..which I am, but because the story telling has been that much more intriguing. Everything moves at a nice steady pace, everything happens for a reason, and when they do a big event they tend to give it to someone who knows how to write one.

I kid, I kid, Marvel has War of Kings by Abnett and Lanning. That’s made of win all its own. DnA FTW.

As far as I’m concerned the secret to pulling together a great book, whether it be an ongoing, a limited, a one shot, or a graphic novel is simple. You need a good idea, a writer capable of working with that good idea, a hook to draw the reader in, and an artist that makes the book easy to read. If you take even one of those things out, you won’t find yourself working with a winner.

Example! X-Factor is an AMAZING book, but when Larry Stroman was drawing it I almost dropped it. One of my favorite titles, and I almost dropped it exclusively because of the art.

Other side of the fence! I love the Teen Titans of old, so Titans is a natural book for me since it has my favorite roster. It also has Howard Porter drawing it, and I adore his work. And yet after three issues I had to put it down as the writing was just horrible. Sadly enough, it was Judd who I’m going to give a chance to on Batman and hope this is a fluke.

Of course, there’s also the quick fact that any writer has their ups and their downs, and despite facing downfalls in their writing, most writers are still able to put out a good book here and there. Chris Claremont, for instance, I cannot tolerate in the modern era. The man defined the X-Men as we know them with his legendary run, but everything he’s done with the title on recent years feels like he’s struggling to recapture that magic and he just can’t. So why am I not surprised that my favorite recent book by him was X-Men: The End? Sure, it was lengthy and confusing, but read as a single volume it was awesome. He’s still superb at long term story telling when he wants to be, the issue is that he struggles with both short term as well as modern story telling.

Same with Len Wein, who wrote the Faces of Evil issue of JLA featuring a VERY blatantly done throwback issue to the silver age Justice League. Now I mean, throwbacks can be cool, but this issue felt like it was just a reprint with updated art. The problem with older writers (and this even goes for Stan Lee in modern excursions) is that they still write a very visual style, with characters who feel this need to explain and choreograph everything that they do. The dialogue comes across as blocky and overly expositional to the point where it’s actually painful to read it.

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Because nobody demanded it….the Silver Age!

Now by no means am I saying that they need to pack their things up and retire, fade into obscurity and nostalgia and live out their lives without polluting comic stands with poorly written books, no, I save that for Jeph Loeb.

No, these guys, these veterans, would be better suited for editor or co-writer roles. Especially in the case of Chris Claremont who obviously still has plenty of ideas in that head of his, he just needs another writer to help him script with the times to reach the right audience.

He also needs to let go of Psylocke already, but that’s a story for another day.

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Let her go Chris, it’s time for someone else to give it a go.

The industry needs more writers like Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan, Matt Fraction, Tony Bedard, and Fabian Nieceza. Guys who can pump out a half dozen books a month when they want to without any taking a hit to the quality. Writers who write characters they care about, and who are careful to not completely alienate readers with their plots.

Or we can just have a bunch more Geoff Johns, Ed Brubaker, Mark Millar, and Brian Bendis. Which, mind you, I will not complain about at all. I’d like to have them all. Along with some Greg Rucka, James Robinson, JMS, Grant Morrison, and oh how the list goes on.

I guess you can just call me a writer junky, as that’s what I read for. I love some of the art, but I always follow the writer first and foremost. I have my favorites just like I have the ones I dodge like the plague.

Maybe one day my name on the cover will get the same kind of reactions from fans, whether it be love or hate, it would be such a trip to get my name on a cover.

Here’s hoping I can be the next Geoff Johns and not the next Chuck Austen.

California sun has sunk, behind the Anaheim Hills, here comes the night. I was high on junk and the warm winds of Santa Anna feel alright

New Avengers this past week was a bait-and-switch, blatantly. Last issue ending promising a big fight between the New Avengers and the Dark Avengers. The cover promised the New Avengers vs the Dark Avengers. The book was supposed to give us the New Avengers vs the Dark Avengers. Instead we got something better. Yes, we’ve seen someone play the traitor before to lure one team into a fight with another, and yes, we’ve seen the New Avengers vs The Hood and his team of villains, but we’ve never seen it like this. Every page of the fight focused on a different Avenger, and each one had their own artist. Anniversary issues are becoming notorious for overusing guest artists, but this was one of the few times I found myself loving it. And of course, the end with Clint on the news….Bendis might actually manage to justify the price tag on this book.

Green Lantern came and went with another fantastic issue that furthered a lot of plots while not truly wrapping up any. It did, however, finally bring Carol and Cowgirl back into the mix after what seems like years without a mention. It also furthered my prediction that Hal will have worn every ring come the end. It also creates my belief that the Blackest Night will end in a huge battle with Hal wearing eight rings, one for each Corps, as he fights the big bad of the Black Lanterns.

Kudos to Sean McKeever for his best issue of Teen Titans yet! If he keeps up like this then I’ll be very glad that I’ve held on to this little book, as he’s finally shown that he can get into the heads of these characters. He made me give a damn about Eddie Bloomberg for the first time since we learned his origin. And on top of that he managed to make Kid Eternity actually work in the confines of this book with a non-offensive power nerfing. I’m anxious for the next issue for once! Yay!

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ETERNITY!

JSA disappointed me. I hate to say it, but I have to say it. Black Adam felt one dimensional, and Isis felt worse than that. And that’s a damn shame since Johns is usually aces with Teth. Jerry Ordway, who I normally still profess my love for the talents of, didn’t do much better though as his art just felt…..inconsistent. The fights came from awkward angles, and I constantly found my eyes drawn away from the scene. I’m hoping next issue reads better, as I would hate to see Johns leave this book with a whimper.

Mon El is back, and he’s cured of lead poisoning. How will this work though? I mean, he still has to get it again so that one of the Legions can yank him out of the no-longer existing Phantom Zone in a thousand years. I should add that I’m more then fine with his presence in the modern DCU though, and I even like him taking the name Jonathan Kent as his civilian identity. This was one of the best issues in recent memory, and I love the way Robinson writes both Mon El and Ma Kent.

Nova just barely got squeaked out of my top three as DnA did yet another amazing issue. Who knew that they’d be able to maintain the momentum on this book even after ripping the Nova powers away from Rich? Sure, it helps that Worldmind is going ape-shit crazy and we’ve all seen it coming, but all the reveals in this issue were just way too freaking cool. I can’t wait to see what happens next as this book ramps up for War of Kings.

Mighty Avengers was much better this issue than last, though I think a large part of that is that Slott gave us a little bit of explanation. Still no word on how or why Wanda is back, but it will come. Slott answers questions. Also have to leave huge props for the moment when USAgent realized he was standing around with unregistered heroes and immediately went into classic USAgent mode and tried to arrest Herc. I was a little bit worried when I saw the team for the book, but my fears are washing away. And hey, any book where we have Cassie Lang addressing “Uncle Hank” is just gold. Also, Jocasta covering up her unmentionables was hilarious.

X-Force brought terrorism to a brand new level, as the Leper Queen made her return. The issue was told mostly from her perspective as her inner thoughts drive the issue forward. She was rescued from death and brought under Bastion’s control, something she’s isn’t happy with but can do nothing about. She doesn’t like what she’s doing, she doesn’t like being used, and she wishes she could just die and have it end. Instead she’s shooting up mutants with the Legacy Virus and using their powers to kill humans by the truckload at Graydon Creed rallies in an effort to create fear and paranoia. How’s that for original? Shoot up a mutant with the virus and then let them overload their powers and burnout in a public area. Intense.

Fantastic Four was great just for someone asking Val how old she was and she gives a very Reed like answer to say two and a half, and the only reply is along the lines of “You are your fathers daughter, aren’t you?” I like her being super smart, it’s fun.

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She’s only two and a half!

Captain America is building to #50 as Buck chases demons from his past to save the original Human Torch. Sure, he does a bit of jobbing, and Black Widow gets more than a little bit pissy with him, but we also got some well written Namor. And I don’t mean the Namor who wants to share the Earth with Dr. Doom. I mean the Namor that respected Steve Rogers and wanted what was best for his people. The noble jackass.

Thunderbolts guest starred President Obama this week, did you know that? Or did you just know that there’s a fifth printing of Spider-Man featuring him out?

Initiative had Counter Force reclaiming their name of the New Warriors, which means that the horrible book written by the black guy from Underworld is finally over I’m going to assume. Pretty cool issue, a long fight scene that worked perfectly with Humberto Ramos’ style of art. Ragnarok is a cool villain, and I can’t wait to see him pop up in Thor. Hopefully Thor will crush his head with his giant God hammer. One can hope, right? Also, Initiative had Cloud 9 in it making jokes about Ultra Girl’s ass hanging out of her costume, which is just that much sweeter if you read the first issue where Abby couldn’t make herself change in the girls’ locker room because of Ultra Girl and Thor Girl and how they had killer bodies and she didn’t. Oh Abby, if only you were real and legal. I’d add you to my list.

Three more episodes left of Battlestar Galactica! THREE!

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And Watchmen on friday!

What I read this week:

  • Green Lantern
  • JSA
  • Superman
  • Teen Titans
  • Invincible
  • Avengers The Initiative
  • Captain America
  • Fantastic Four
  • Mighty Avengers
  • New Avengers
  • Nova
  • Runaways
  • Thunderbolts
  • X-Force

Best of the week:

  1. Green Lantern
  2. New Avengers
  3. Captain America

The Gold Standard

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