The Gold Standard #46

I quit reading comics my freshman year of high school, and then proceeded to not mention them again in public for several years. I wasn’t embarrassed, not at all, I love comics. I quit because I was fifteen and had parents going through a divorce and felt guilty asking for money and a ride every week to get comics. So I quit asking. Quit reading. Quit reading about them. Cut them out of my life entirely. Sure, I had my collection, and yes, I read and reread through it all of the time, but it was never quite the same. Comics weren’t something I could talk about around the lunch table, or dinner table, or virtually ever. They weren’t ‘hip’, they weren’t cool, they were just part of nerdy subculture.

Everyone knows Wolverine now

Everyone knows Wolverine now

When I was a junior, Spider-Man hit theaters and shattered box office records. Comics weren’t cool yet, but people were talking about them. Suddenly people remembered that I wore a Captain America shirt, and that I had another one with Venom’s logo on it. My friends (and quasi-friends) were asking me questions that I had far too many answers to, and it was kinda cool. But I was still a geek, you know? I could talk entirely too much about characters that none of them had heard of. Not my best moments, admittedly, but I loved it. I might not have been reading, but I loved comics.

Now I need to set up the landscape for you guys, because I’m not sure how many of my readers were in places in their lives to really gauge the speed of what I’m getting ready to go on about. When I started high school people remembered the Batman movies, the two good ones to a degree, the decent one a bit, and the horrible one quite a lot. Blade was big, and people loved it, but it wasn’t like most people even realized it was a comic. My generation grew up with X-Men the Animated Series (92-97, second grade through seventh grade), Spider-Man the Animated Series (94-98, fourth grade to seventh grade), Batman the Animated Series (92 -99, second grade through eighth grade), and Superman the Animated Series (96-00, sixth grade through freshman year). And that’s taking into account that these shows were all over by the time I got into high school. I left out Static Shock, Batman Beyond, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, and I’m sure a few others I watched. Again, I love comics. But that’s how I went into high school. X-Men came out after freshman year, Spider-Man during junior year, Daredevil and Hulk when I was a senior, and yeah. Oh, and X-Men 2. Can’t forget X-Men 2. Of all the comic movies when I was in high school, that was by far, the most awesome.

Thomas Janes Punisher was awesome, and hit when I was a college freshman.

Thomas Jane's Punisher was awesome, and hit when I was a college freshman.

So when I left high school, needless to say, comics were getting pretty relevant in the main stream. Not to some huge degree, but it was less awkward to strike up a conversation about them with some random schmuck I might be hanging out with.

Oh, I also left high school reading comics again. Senior year I started reading again, maybe a month or two before graduation. It was fun, and I won’t ever say otherwise, I was rediscovering my love and passion in a way that I never expected. I was picking up on the undertones, the subtext, hell, even some of the stuff I somehow just glossed over when I was younger. I was talking about comics more than ever, but unfortunately, there was no real outlet for it. Freshman year of college I’d wager all but one of my Comp I and II papers were about comics, and while my teachers didn’t have a clue about any of the subject matter, I seemed to ace them all just the same. I was one of the only guys in my dorm that read comics though, and it kept up the fact that any conversations about my favorite hobby would be presented to deaf ears.

Now here I am, a man of twenty-four, and I’ve been reading comics for around eighteen years. I see people working out with Superman logos, and kids walking down the street with Batman shirts. I go to the movies and see posters for Kick Ass and Iron Man 2, and I read online casting rumors for Thor and Captain America. Heath Ledger won a (posthumous) Academy Award for his role as the Joker in Dark Knight. A BATMAN movie has an Oscar. I never saw that coming in a million years, and yet it’s a reality.

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

I graduated high school six and a half years ago, how did so much change? How did my little niche hobby go mainstream? And most importantly, why do all of these fairweather fans always try to talk to me like they’re experts?

Seriously, I love the growing of the industry, but if you just saw a movie and now think you’re the expert on the original subject matter, and then have the cajones to tell me that Spider-Man has always had organic webbing and Rogue got her white hair from Magneto, then I will probably smack you. Not that I’m violent, but you don’t see me running around telling the story of V for Vendetta because I saw the flick. Not at all, I mean, I’ve never read the book. So while I’ll discuss the movie with people, you won’t see me profess myself an expert.

I mean, false expertise is hardly the worst thing in the world, but one can only hope that some of these people who sit in the theater and enjoy these movies based on my favorite books, and that maybe, just maybe, they’ll go to a store and buy a few books. That’s all it takes; a few people picking up a few books, maybe finding a few more, maybe hooking a few friends….it’s called growing the industry, and it’s what everything is all about in the end.

Did you like a movie based on a comic? Go check out a comic, it doesn’t have to be based on the flick or TV show you saw, it could be anything. Support the industry, keep books alive and help writers and artists continue to get work. Every new set of eyes that flips a cover is a potential new lifelong reader, and there is no such thing as too early or too late to get in on it. There are more to comics then big Hollywood blockbusters are awesomeness.

In fact, Spider-Girl is always a good place to start 😉

These things that have comforted me, I drive away; This place that is my home I cannot stay; My only faith’s in the broken bones and bruises I display

Batgirl remains my pick for sleeper hit of the year, I mean, a writer that I for one had never heard of, writing a solo series with Stephanie Brown as Batgirl? And it’s REALLY good? Who saw that coming? Steph is an easy to like character that has been exceling in the solo situation, and it’s in a large part due to her not existing seemingly just for the sake of Tim Drake for a chance. Without his shadow to sit in, she’s so far a lot more interesting then I ever thought her to be as Spoiler.

While I might not be a fan of Deadpool having three monthly books, I won’t argue the quality of the main title. Daniel Way has a knack for the kind of humor that Wade contributes to a title, and I dare say that he may be a more natural fit for the title than Fabian or Joe Kelly. This is a Wade that isn’t hero or villain, he’s just insane and usually bored. What does this mean for the title? It means that him having a slugfest with Bullseye makes as much sense as him running around in a knock off X-Men uniform. And on that note, Way made it clear that there truly is a method to Deadpool’s madness as this entire arc came together more sensibly then I ever expected.

New Avengers Annual was false advertising! False I say, false! I was promised the return of Jewel! Return means more than four panels in an extra sized issue! That said, I did dig the issue (even if I wasn’t huge on Mayhew being on art duties), but I will agree with what I’ve seen others say, and say that it would have been better suited upping the page count on Avengers: The List and adding this material to it. I mean, this takes place IMMEDIATELY following The List, which we now know takes place after the most recent arc of New Avengers. Doing it extra sized and all in one would have straightened up the continuity a bit from the start, as well as probably tighten the story up to improve the quality.

Jessica Jones returns to action! And this is almost all there was of it!

Jessica Jones returns to action! And this is almost all there was of it!

If I have any complaint about REBELS it would be that Vril only had his ring for two issues. He’s a Dox! A Brainiac! Imagine the possibilities, he could rule the Sinestro Corps with an iron fist! Mongul who? Sinestro what? Brainiac 2 for the win!

Dark X-Men isn’t a phenomenal mini series by any means, a solid one, yes, and a must read one, yes, but not phenomenal. But wait, how can it be must read without being phenomenal to an AJ Styles degree? Simple. Nate Grey is in it, and he is made out of omnipotent levels of awesome. He’s the guy that Norman should be pissing himself over, because Nate is a fucking bad ass. AND HE’S BACK!

Black Alice joined the Secret Six, and I say it’s about time. Alice is a Simone creation that she loves to pull out from time to time, and us Simone fans are always clamoring for more of our favorite magical jack-mover. I still want the secret origin though, the one that says she’s related to Misfit. Speaking of, I miss Misift!

Booster vs Black Lantern Ted was a bit heart wrenching, not gonna lie. It’s a testament to Dan Jurgens that he took one of the most obvious Black Lantern mash ups and made a great story out of it, not just for Booster, but for the new Blue Beetle as well.

Red Robin is finally finding it’s niche in the Bat franchise, but I fear it may be too little too late, as while it’s readable now, it’s just….well, it doesn’t have to do with anything. Yes, it’s a Tim Drake fix, but I can’t shake the feeling that beyond it being a book about Tim Drake, that there is nothing else worth while about it.

I just want to make a note that I felt Adventure Comics was brilliant. I mean, I’m not the biggest Superboy Prime fan, but I felt this was a great use of the character. Who else can throw a super powered tantrum, while fighting Black Lantern’s of characters that aren’t even deemed worthy of naming (I caught Bushido, Sun Boy, and Element Lad) led by Alex Luthor, have this event happen inside the DC offices, and use it to add some much needed characterization to a much hated villain? To be honest, and I’m not spoiling the second half of the main story, I loved everything about the story. Especially the Jerry Ordway art, which just makes me say yet again, what the fuck was wrong with him for that Black Adam arc on JSA? It was horrible!

At least he didnt come back to Earth 1!

At least he didn't come back to Earth 1!

As for Kon El? For the few pages he got this issue, we didn’t get much in the way of Kon (yes, I do prefer Kon to Conner) development, but we got plenty for Lori, the ‘love interest’….since, you know, he’s with Wonder Girl, and why would he dump Wonder Girl for a random hot vandal in Smallville? Hell, best thing Kon did all issue was point out he had a girlfriend. Lori, on the other hand, has a predictable famous uncle that shows up to set up next issue.

Iron Man is the best book Marvel is putting out, and Fraction is their best writer. Bendis be damned, Frac is the man! As Stark: Disassembled moves forward, we get a nice host of very welcome guest stars; including James Rhodes, Don Blake, and Steve Rogers. Now I want to gush about this issue, which is easy to do, but I still need someone to tell me 1) How Rhodey got all cyborg like for Initiative and 2) How he got all normal again for this.

New X-Men status quo means I impulsively by the first issue of yet another sub-par anthology title. At least Nation X had some Mike Allred art to make up for it.

I loved the cover of The Gathering, where Kyle and Yost were acknowledged as “The Killers of Mutants”. That made me chuckle, despite, you know, being one of the vocal haters when they came on to my beloved New X-Men and started wholesale slaughtering. They grew on me, and this issue was a nice reminder of why. Up until The Gathering I was under the impression that Selene’s Inner Circle were all rezzed mutants like, well, everything else she’s doing, not that they were alive and willing participants. So it was cool to see her gathering her people, to see them accepting who they’ve become and what they’ll do for her. Especially Senyaka, who I kept thinking must have gotten killed off panel, but am especially glad to see back. He was always one of the cooler designed characters from the Acolytes, and I loved his action figure.

What I read two weeks ago:

  • Action Comics
  • Adventure Comics
  • Batgirl
  • Booster Gold
  • Rebels
  • Red Robin
  • Secret Six
  • Dark X-Men
  • Deadpool
  • Invincible Iron Man
  • Nation X
  • New Avengers Annual
  • Sword
  • Web of Spider-Man
  • Necrosha: The Gathering

Best of the week:

  1. Invincible Iron Man
  2. Secret Six
  3. Adventure Comics

Kyle’s back! One issue! That awesome! Yes, I groaned at it being due to the power of love, but I did not groan one bit at Guy Gardner going badass as a Red Lantern that, unlike Hal, was able to wield Green and Red at the same time. It was an awesome issue, and the Corps coming to Natu’s aid as she tried to revive Kyle was great. They could have called him just another fallen soldier and moved on, but he’s Kyle Rayner, he’s the Torchbearer, and damn it, he would have gone back for any single one of them.

Power Girl and a space suitor? The premise had me groaning, but the execution was hilarious. This book is probably never going to rank on my top 10 books of all time list, but it’s consistent and fun and that says a lot. Amanda Connor was born to draw Peeg, and Palmiotti is a natural writer for her. I’ve been on and off critical of his work for a few years, but this book is definitely right for him.

Who knew that after all the wait, and the creative changes, and the followup book already being two and a half years deep, that Authority: The Lost Year would still be awesome? I mean, yeah, it’s Grant Morrison plots and Keith Giffen scripts, and there is nothing bad about that at all, but I figured they’d lose something in the translation. Instead, we get the source for all despair on Earth being a Lovecraftian jellyfish looking thing feeding on us. To get home, the Authority need to potentially kill it and everything on Earth. Care to guess the choice they made? This is definitely the classic Authority, the ones who did what had to be done and damned be the consequences, the ends justified them. They use to have balls!

Dr. Light vs Dr. Light ends with Kimiyo getting a power boost, while Vixen and Gypsy fought JL Detroit. It wasn’t a great issue, but Robinson was showing his love of Kimiyo Hoshi, and setting her up for when the new team forms in the book in the coming issues. If you like her, hey, it was fun. She was bad ass and half naked.

I can’t help but feel that Astonishing X-Men would be a lot better received if Ellis wasn’t doing dead X-Men turned into Bio-Sentinels at the exact same time that Kyle and Yost are running Necrosha. It feels redundant, despite that the ideas are pretty damn different. I mean, in one case, you have Selene raising dead mutants for some sinister purpose. In the other, you have Warren Ellis. See what I mean?

Did I just see Cable turn down two chances to kill Bishop in a single issue? Has he learned nothing? Hope is, I’m going to guess, seventeen or eighteen. Her entire life she’s been hunted by Bishop. Cable missed two years of her life when time travel dropped him two years later then her, and another two years of them being locked in stasis. So let’s say she’s eighteen, that means he’s been saving her from Bishop for fourteen years. At what point does he just take the kill shot and tell his ‘daughter’ that she can finally rest easy at night because the bad man that’s been trying to kill her since the day she was born is dead?

Captain America Reborn should have been five issues, and I say this as four and five could have been rolled into one issue and not hurt the overall story. I also say this having read Who Will Wield the Shield, and not number six, so had it only been five issue Brian Hitch would have finished on time and we wouldn’t be complaining about shitty schedules not being met. I dunno, I dig Hitch. I love Ultimates, I loved Fantastic Four, but his Cap is just….I want Steve Epting on this book. Or Mike Perkins. Or Luke Ross. I want a Brubaker artist, someone with more substance then style, with more sizzle than flash. In other words….not Hitch. He’s just too….I don’t know, I want to say he’s trying to make it look too much like a blockbuster movie when Brubaker isn’t writing one. His Cap has a very unique feel, and the artists he’s been paired with thus far are perfect for it.

Hank Pym: Scientist Supreme, looks great on a business card. Mighty Avengers is a real gem, and a true throwback to days past with this franchise. On top of that, Slott has a cast of characters that he’s proven to actually get, and while I’m not overly pleased that Quicksilver is no longer in PAD’s hands, I think Slott is doing a great job with him. I also love USAgent and the fact that he’s the one real superhero that’s all “Yay Norman!” with the salutes, it’s just….so in character for him.

Terra is dead, again, and this time she’s been turned to stone. Can we keep her that way? In all but the version of her that hangs out with PG? That’s the only Terra I like anymore, the rest are just…..Gar needs to get over it, Brion needs to get over it, everyone needs to get over it. She’s dead, there have been other Titans traitors, and she’s just….I like the Judas Contract, but can we just let the bitch go? They’ve killed her twice! And one of which was death by Black Marvel!

New Terra is better anyway

New Terra is better anyway

Todd Nauck may have outdone Dan Jurgens with his rendition of the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and I mean, sure, it’s the Jurgens costume, but I’m just gushing because it was being used again! By Ben! Clone Saga!

X-Factor is back with increased numbers, and the same degree of quality. Great issue, even with the inflated price. It was one of those rare occasions where Marvel releases a five dollar comic that’s actually worth five dollars. Sure,  PAD is just keeping going on the path he was already on, but there’s a reason this is one of the best books out there. It didn’t need any sort of shot in the arm to be awesome, it just is awesome.

What I read last week:

  • Authority: The Lost Year
  • Batman
  • Batman: Streets of Gotham
  • Green Lantern Corps
  • JLA
  • Outsiders
  • Power Girl
  • Supergirl
  • Astonishing X-Men
  • Cable
  • Captain America Reborn
  • Mighty Avengers
  • Spider-Man: The Clone Saga
  • Thunderbolts
  • X-Factor
  • X-Force
  • X-Men Legacy

Best of the week:

  1. Green Lantern Corps
  2. X-Factor
  3. Mighty Avengers

The Gold Standard

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