Saturday, 11 June 2011

Paul's Pick of the DC Comics Relaunch

All of the 52 new DC titles launching in September have been announced!  A complete list of them can be found here.  Like every fan with an internet connection, I have an opinion about the list and I'm compelled to share it, even though no one asked me!  There are many on the list that look perfectly good but I just haven't got the money to check them out, or they're just not characters I click with.  What's left can be divided into four categories;

  1. What the Hell? What are they thinking?!
  2. Looks good, I'll get the trade if I hear good things.
  3. I'm gonna get the first couple of issues and may keep on getting it if it's good.
  4. This is on the Pull List without a doubt!

Let's get the moaning out of the way first.

1. What the Hell? What are they thinking?!

Hawk And Dove #1 by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld

"I can't be arsed to draw anything in the background, I'll just draw their faces again. That'll do."

Based on his Supergirl run Sterling Gates is a fantastic writer and Hawk and Dove are interesting enough characters.  I probably would have checked this out if it wasn't for one thing.  Rob Liefeld's art.  I remain absolutely baffled as to why people like Liefeld's work.  He seems to have no clue how to draw basic human anatomy and to be honest he's not that great at drawing anything else.  To be fair he does seem to know this and usually keeps the backgrounds of his panels to a bare minimum.  It's not even as if he's a particularly imaginative artist.  Just check out his recent web-comic, Zombie Jesus.  Biblical zombies should be an opportunity for an artist to have a field day drawing undead rabbis, PhariseesRoman soldiers etc.  Surely part of the appeal of zombie movies and comics is that tragic glimpse we get of the zombies former lives? Liefeld chooses to draw them as vague,muddy looking things that don't even look like zombies due to their trademark Liefeld biceps and pecs.  Those zombies have been working out.  

Suffice to say, Liefeld's presence has made this series one for me to avoid.

Teen Titans #1 by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund 

Apparently that thing on Superboy's back is supposed to be a sign left by Kid Flash. Er..ok? 

It's the art once again that's putting me off this title.  I'm not a massive fan of Brett Booth's style but it's the costume designs that are spoiling this for me more than anything else.  Kid Flash and Red Robin's costumes look messy and jumbled and Superboy looks like a random street punk in a bad '90s film.  In fact the whole thing looks dated and none of the characters look the least bit iconic.  They look less like the Titans and more like a '90s Image Comic featuring characters ripped off from the Titans.

On the other hand writer Scott Lobdell has a proven track record with teen super-teams.  I remember his run on Generation X being very enjoyable, so maybe this title will work.  I hope so.

2. Looks good, I'll get the trade if I hear good things.

Swamp Thing #1 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette

Scott Snyder has done an absolutely amazing job with his recent run on Detective Comics and I've heard nothing but good things about his American Vampire series.  Yanick Paquette's recent work on Batman Inc has been equally amazing, so I'm sure this series will work.  Unfortunately I share the opinion of my fellow blogger Duy Tano on the character of Swamp Thing.  On his blog, The Comics Cube, he wrote
Alan Moore's SWAMP THING is one of my favorite comics of all time, and it had such a beautiful ending that I can't take any Swamp Thing story that comes after it seriously. I'm even a big fan of Rick Veitch and I still can't read his run. I just can't bring myself to do it.
That pretty much sums it up for me too.  If I hear really great things about this series I might check out the trade but I just can't put it on the Pull List.

3. I'm gonna get the first couple of issues and may keep on getting it if it's good.

Fury Of Firestorm #1 by Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar

I like Gail Simone's writing and, based on his work on Legion of Superheroes Yildiray Cinar is a good artist.  I've never experienced Ethan Van Sciver's writing before but with Simone alongside him I'm sure it'll be fine.  Having said that I've never read much of Firestorm's solo adventures before, my experience of him has mostly been through appearances in Justice League comics.  I'm not sure my interest in the character is enough to keep me regularly following his title.  There are however, two main reasons why I'm considering getting Fury of Firestorm.  Firstly, Firestorm's story thread in Brightest Day was among my favourite parts of the series.  Secondly, I love the new staus quo of high school nerd Jason Rusch merging with high school jock Ronnie Raymond to form Firestorm.  I loved the dynamic between the two in Brightest Day and I think the idea of a nerd and a jock combining to make a super-hero is a simple but clever hook that could make this book a lot of fun.  I'm definitely checking out the first issue.

Flash #1 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul

I really, really want to get this series as I'm a massive Flash fan and have been since I was a kid.  I love both Barry Allen and Wally West equally, so it doesn't matter to me who's the star of the book.  It's the writers I'm unsure of. While I love Manapul's art I've never read any of his or Buccellato's writing before.  Normally I wouldn't be so nervous but the memory of 2006's dreadful Flash relaunch by writers Danny Wilson and Paul  De Meo is still fresh in my mind.  These were two TV writer/producers who were new to comics and their run on Flash: The Fastest Man Alive was tedious, predictable and showed a complete lack of understanding of the character they were writing.  It's totally unfair of me to pre-judge Buccellato and Manapul based on a previous Flash-related disappointment involving two writers whose work I was unfamiliar with.  But I can't help it, I love the Flash and I'm nervous.  I'm still going to give the series a chance however and hopefully it will remain a permanent fixture on my Pull List.

4. This is on the Pull List without a doubt!

Green Lantern #1 by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

Johns and Mahnke are sticking with the title and so am I.  While the title seemed to drag a little bit after Blackest Night, it's picked up again with the latest storyline, War of The Green Lanterns and even during its slight post-Blackest Night dip it was still one of my favourite regulars.  I currently get Green Lantern regularly and for cash flow reasons I only dip into the other Lantern titles during crossovers.  As long as Johns and Mahnke are staying I see no reason to change that routine.

Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

I love Geoff Johns' writing, I love Ivan Reis' art and I looooooovee Aquaman! This is a no-brainer. I am getting this! 'Nuff said!

Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee

Okay, the Jim Lee costume re-designs are a bit '90s to say the least, all seams and chin guards.  At least there's hardly any pouches.  But I've been waiting for Geoff Johns to write an ongoing Justice League book for years and I'll be damned if a bunch of v-neck collars are going to stop me from finally reading it!

Batman And Robin #1 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

I quite like Peter Tomasi's writing and I really like Patrick Gleason's art.  I liked his work on Aquaman years ago and his work seems to have grown tighter and more detailed since then.  But the main reason I'll be getting this book is Damien"Robin" Wayne.  He's the cocky little psychopath with the heart of gold and I love him.  His relationship with Dick Grayson is one of the main reasons Batman and Robin has been so good up until now and I can't wait to see how he gets on with Bruce Wayne as Batman.

Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Snyder on Batman?  That's all I need to know. His handling of Dick Grayson and Jim Gordon in Detective Comics has been absolutely fascinating.  We've seen Dick struggling to wrap his head around Gotham City's craziness and Gordon dealing with a psychopathic son who may or may not be a murderer.  I can't wait to see what he does with Bruce Wayne.

Legion Lost #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods/ Legion of Superheroes by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela

I've been really enjoying what Levitz has been doing with the Legion for the past year and I'm relieved to see it's not getting thrown out of the window with another unnecessary reboot.  The idea of a group of Legionnaires trapped in the present sounds like loads of fun and I'm really glad Pete Woods is involved as I loved his recent Action Comics work. My only concern is that any changes that may be made to Superman will mean that Levitz will once again have to fiddle with the Legion's origins in order to remove Superboy. And the last thing the Legion needs is any more origin fiddling.

Superman #1 by George Pérez and Jesus Merino
Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales

While I'm slightly disappointed that Perez isn't drawing as well as writing Superman it's a very small complaint as Jesus Merino is a perfectly good Superman artist and everything else regarding the relaunching of these two titles is perfect.  Perez has already had experience of revamping one of DC's major characters with his work on Wonder Woman in the '80s and Grant Morrison has already written one of the greatest Superman stories ever, All Star Superman.  Morrison has already proven that he has a lot of love and respect for Superman but more importantly he has proven time and time again that he is a writer who is overflowing with imagination, and that is one thing that has been missing from the Superman titles for a good long while. 

Yes, it's a shame that Action Comics has been re-set to issue one after all these years and yes, the new costume looks dodgy, and yesif Superman's origin is tweaked again that'll be his third origin reboot in under ten years (fourth if you count Earth One). But if what Morrison has planned is even half as good as All Star Superman or his Batman run, then it'll all be worth it.

So there we have it.  At the moment my Pull List from September onwards will include,
  1. Justice League
  2. Batman and Robin 
  3. Batman
  4. Green Lantern 
  5. Aquaman
  6. Superman
  7. Action Comics
  8. Legion of Superheroes
  9. Legion Lost
  10. Flash (hopefully)
  11. Fury of Firestorm (maybe)
They'll be joined by my regular Marvel titles, FF, Invincible Iron Man and Amazing Spider-Man, and next year I'll add Grant Morrison's relaunched Batman Inc. 

What do you think?  Am I leaving out something that could be really good?  Have I included something that could be really bad?  What will your September Pull List look like?  Let me know. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

George Perez on Superman!

Today ran a story that states "according to good comic book industry sources,  (George) Pérez is scheduled to write and draw the new Superman #1".  

Let's just take a minute to reflect on why that is the most awesome thing ever....

And we've barely scraped the surface of how awesome Perez is at drawing Superman.  As for his writing, well I'm not a big Wonder Woman fan but his '80s relaunch of the character is probably my favourite interpretation of her to date.  In the same decade he also co-plotted and drew a little thing called New Teen Titans!

Suffice to say, I'm not going to relax until DC officially confirm this.  This could be brilliant!

UPDATE: DC Comics have just confirmed that while Perez will be writing Superman #1 and drawing the covers, Jesus Merino will actually be on art duties.  It's a shame but I guess Perez would never have hit the deadlines with the level of detail he puts into his work.  That's not a complaint mind you, it's one of the reasons I love Perez' stuff.  Also, Merino's art isn't exactly hard on the eye so I'm still a happy bunny.

It's cool, Merino draws a really good Superman!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

DC Comics Relaunch: My tuppence worth

On the day the news broke about DC Comics' massive relaunch I managed to toss out a quick reaction on the blog, but I hadn't really had time to fully digest the information and decide exactly how I felt about the the fifty two brand spanking new first issues heading our way in September.  So now that a few days have passed, how do I, DC Comics nut that I am, feel about the various rebootings, retweekings and relaunchings in store for Superman and his pals?  Well, it's still difficult to say.  It feels like there's an ongoing battle between optimism and pessimism going on in my brain.  I've decided that rather than try and put this into words I'm going to visually represent it in the form of the ultimate battle between good and evil!  Optimus Prime Vs. Megatron!!!!

The original battle is from Transformers: The Movie Adaptation #1 (1986) with art by Don Perlin, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey.  The font is Deeko Comic Regular and is by d-ko and is found here.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Paul's Predictions for a Post-Flashpoint Universe

Here's how USA Today covered DC Comics' announcement regarding the changes to the DC Universe after Flashpoint.
DC Comics has a new strategy to be No. 1 in comic books: all-new No. 1s.  Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.
The first book to be released under this new era: Justice League No. 1, out Aug. 31, a series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee that reunites the famous lineup of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC's trademark superteam. "What's the human aspect behind all these costumes?" he says. "That's what I wanted to explore."
In September, another 51 first issues will debut, introducing stories that are grounded in each character's specific legend but also reflect today's real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the costumes' redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.
"We really want to inject new life in our characters and line," says Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC with Lee. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
It's hard not to be cynical about all this.  DC tried a softer reboot a few years ago after Infinite Crisis with their One Year Later scheme.  Sadly the momentum of One Year Later was ruined by delays and inconsistent creative teams.  Also, rebooting long running, popular titles to #1 has met with disastrous results in the past.  Remember Spider-Man:Chapter One? 

Marvel no longer speak of it for some reason.

But it makes sense for DC Comics to try and do something to get them into the mainstream press when all eyes are on the new Green Lantern film, they'd be silly not to.  Who knows, it may actually get some new readers.  I reckon it's pointless complaining about all this until we've seen the creative talent behind the new titles.  That's when I'll be getting excited/worried (delete as appropriate).

What will this mean for the characters?  Based on what Didio said about "a point where our characters are younger" I reckon we can make a few guesses as to what changes might be made.

  1. Superman will no longer be married to Lois Lane, and she probably won't know his secret identity.
  2. Bruce Wayne will be the only Batman again, no more Batman Inc.
  3. Dick Grayson will no longer be Batman, he may even be Robin again.
  4. Wally West will be Kid Flash again.
  5. The Justice Society of America will be back on Earth Two.
  6. Characters like Kyle Rayner, Conner Hawke, Bart Allen and Damien Wayne will exist on a parallel Earth where the original heroes have retired.  On this Earth Wally will be The Flash and Dick will be Batman.

Of course all this is still unfolding even as I write.  By the time I wake up tomorrow I might be proven wrong.  But I don't really mind what changes they make.  Just please, please, please give us some good creative talent who'll stick with the book longer than a few issues!!!