The Old 52

With the most recent announcement that 4 original DC titles are getting the ax (Superboy, Birds of Prey, Batwing, and All-Star Western) in August, the remains of the “New” 52 are all but gone. Of all the books DC publishes now, only 21 original titles remain. That’s less than half of the books that were launched. While their are exceptions (Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are getting relaunched, JLI was scrubbed for story purposes, etc) it is still rather alarming to think that the original New 52 has dwindled this far. While DC has added solid replacements such as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn, those serve as the exceptions to DC’s line. The ongoing series’ and the once that have survived are the 21 I have noted above. Of all the books launched to replace books, very few of them exist. Of the Second Wave only Earth 2 survives, with Worlds Finest now joining Batman Inc, Dial H, The Ravagers, and GI Combat. Of the Third Wave, we Phantom Stranger is joining Talon, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. The next few launched were JLA and Katana, also now gone.

While I will give DC credit for trying new things, with only 23 books on the shelf that have proved to be tried and true, a problem has emerged. Only time can tell if some of DC’s more recent gambits such as JLU, Infinity Man, Constantine, JL 300, and the Superman-Batman/Wonder Woman books will test as well as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn have thus far. To truly succeed and gain back market share, DC is going to need to be bold, but also smart. I posted previously how I felt Marvel’s Hawkeye strategy was effective, and should be emulated. DC needs some help adding titles that can survive in the long run. And with characters like Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and even Lex Luthor gaining increased popularity, DC has the characters to do it. Once again, I’m all for them trying new and bold things, but they need to balance that with books that can and will sell. I may not know exactly what those books look like, but I’m pretty sure all of us out there have many ideas that DC could utilize. For that we’ll have to wait and see what we get to replace these books come October.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you think DC has done right and how do you think they could improve for the future?

Until the next time, Rn

Wednesday Round Up

Hello all! I have been rather silent lately, and for that I will apologize.

I was originally going to wait to post again until next week, but something remarkable happened. Moon Knight. So I decided that I would take the time before work to address the high’s and lows of last weeks comics, before I dive into my stack for this week (Batgirl, Royals, and Hawkeye!)

Moon Knight #1: This book makes me want to do a proper review, so I will be posting one about that shortly. I will attach the link here once it is completed.

Magneto #1: This book was different than I expected, as the internal dialogue of the character emphasized what I like about villains. Instead of getting a long monologue with stereotypical villainous schemes, we find Magneto contemplating himself and his past actions as he hunts down a killer who target mutants. This reflection on who he is and admission that he is a bad guy, was well worth the read.

Green Arrow #29: Much like Batman and Two-Face #28 went under the radar, I think this book will too. The ending of Batman and went largely unnoticed, even though it saw the demise of Two-Face. This book too has a shocking ending, as an arrow glides smoothly through Ollie’s face, leaving him dead on the ground. Granted this is a comic, and dead isn’t dead, the last scene is rather startling. This book did have one major flaw, in my mind. Diggle. This book forces the character down our throat in an attempt to have some semblance of continuity with the Arrow television show. I for one prefer my two separate. TV and film are where comic characters go to die, and having a stellar book like Green Arrow feel like it needs to stoop down and attract the audience of a shitty television show is disgusting.

Arkham War #6: Much like Green Arrow, I was disappointed by the conclusion to what was one of the best Forever Evil tie ins. Instead of having the final scene with Bane taking control of the city, I found myself distracted by this.
Image

Really? It’s been almost two years since the film debuted, yet someone at DC decided now was a time to incorporate Bane’s Dark Knight Rises jacket? I’m not even sure what he said for the last two pages as I was appalled that Bane was doing his best Tom Hardy impression. What could have been a dramatic and important conclusion just turned into a distracting reminder of what I dislike.

Earth Two #29: While I have sung the praises of Tom Taylor early in his run, I am beginning to grow weary of this book every month. For three issues now, nothing has happened. More people die, while the plot isn’t significantly advanced. Early on we saw the death of Green Lantern, Doctor Fate is not legitimately crazy, the Atom is either armless or dead, and the list of casualties continues to grow. It’s not as if I dislike bad things happening in my comics, but the overwhelming amount of bad has gotten difficult to read.

That concludes my thoughts for some of the talking points from last week. I will post my review of Moon Knight #1 shortly for your reading pleasure.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Solomon Grundy #1

I was excited to see the return of Grundy for villains month, I loved the alternate Earth take on the character, and I loved the way the Rot and The Green existed in different versions on Earth 2. Given that Grundy ended up on the moon, I was surprised that he would be given an issue and fascinated to see how this primal force would come back to Earth. Before I discuss much more, here is what I liked.

1. Aaron Lopresti has long been one of my favorite artists in the comic book world, and it was a thrill to see him back after his run on the fabulous and sadly short lived, Sword of Sorcery.
2. We get to see the origin story for the man that would become the Rot.

Rating before reading: 6
Rating after reading: 4

I love Kindt and I love Lopresti, but this book had so many wholes in it, not even the most fantastic of art could make you forget that. To start, the comic gives no explanation on how Grundy traveled from the moon to the real world. He simply just crash landed killing some innocent people. While the rest of his story in the present is clever, the issue has a severe disconnect with origin. We see Solomon and his wife struggle to make ends meet just before the turn of the century (the 20th century that is). So while it was neat to see that his evil has been on Earth for more than a century, there is no reason behind any of the action in the book. We get no real reason for why Solomon’s wife would kill herself (especially since they had a little baby). That of course set into motion Solomon’s murderous rampage over the one’s who caused the incident. And then, also with no regard for their child, Solomon kills himself and slides into slaughter swamp. The story ends with the baby crying and Solomon’s eyes’ opening up. That’s it. We see nothing else. We don’t get to see how the freshly dead Solomon became Grundy, we don’t see anything. We then are permanently stuck in the present where Grundy is murdering everything he sees in pursuit of the Green Man.

It is for all these lengthy reasons that I cannot recommend this book to anyone. We have some of the industries top talents on the book, but there are just way too many problems with the book to justify a consistent readership.

Until the next time,

Rn

Replacing Robinson

By now most of you have heard that the ever talented James Robinson has not only left Earth 2 but DC as well. While I could spend hours discussing the flaws with DC’s editorial staff I won’t. Sadly, DC will have to learn to respect their creators first and foremost, and if losing dozens of fabulous creators is the way to do it, then so be it. I recognize it is a job, but there needs to be serious cleaning going on at DC. Serious cleaning.

That being said, we are all left facing the impossible reality of an Earth 2 without James Robinson. He has been architect and grandmaster for this new universe for ages, and once discussed having plans well beyond 16 issues. Earth 2 has been the most popular of the Second Wave books, and come August will be one of the two remaining from the original six.

So we are left wondering who could hop aboard Earth 2. It’s an insanely good book at the moment, and assuming that Nicola Scott stays on for art duties, it will only be lacking a good writer. Does DC have a writer that could allow Earth 2 to at least float on by? Or is Earth 2 doomed to an untimely and undeserving end?

First off it is important to note that DC has yet to address the departure of Andy Diggle from Action and DC. They have instead put highly criticized and widely hated (at least among my social and social media circles) Scott Lobdell as the writer for the book. If DC can’t seem to find a worthy name for Action in a timely manner, how could Earth 2 ever hope to survive? Below I’ll discuss the creators currently in DC’s pen that I think could a terrific job at continuing the legacy of Earth 2.

I will also state for the record that Geoff Johns may have the chops and capacity to work on the book, but that would lead to serious over exposure to his work and that wouldn’t be a good thing. So I am leaving Johns out of this intentionally.

Assuming he still is within the DC stables former Red Lanterns and Stormwatch scribe Peter Milligan has the credentials to write an up and coming team of heroes. His work on X-Statix showed that not only could he work and build a team exceptionally well, but that he could work with brilliant under the radar characters. As most of the cast of Earth 2 is relatively unknown, Milligan could easily expand upon the threads left by Robinson and create the team we have all been waiting for.

Following upon the same trend former New Guardians and Blue Beetle writer Tony Bedard  also has a reputation for working with teams. Not only that, Bedard has experience working with many of these characters as he has written a few issues of the pre New 52 universe. While not the full time scribe, Bedard has proven himself on titles like Exiles, the Great Ten, and even R.E.B.E.L.S. Bedard can not only write teams effectively but has done a tremendous work creating characters that people care about. R.E.B.E.L.S and Great Ten were tremendously well done with the latter lasting much longer than anyone saw possible.

While new to DC, Greg Pak is starting his work there with the massively important Batman/Superman title. Within the course of the title we’ll see Bruce and Clark travel to Earth 2 and beyond, which forces Pak to be at least somewhat familiar with the Earth 2 universe. Given Pak’s great track record at Marvel, the Earth 2 gig could be well within his grasp, and should be enough to excite even the most hard core fans.

While he has yet to write anything quite like this, I really like the idea of Robert Venditti working on Earth 2. He has produced some great books for both DC and beyond, and will be relatively free with Demon Knights ending. While currently writing Valiant’s X-O Mannowar and DC’s main Green Lantern title, giving Venditti the chance to write something like this should be exciting. He knows how to build a plot, and has done a tremendous job at building the Valiant universe. Both team building and world building are necessary for a successful Earth 2 replacement.

Speaking of world building, J.T Krul (whom is currently worldbuilding in his well done Jirni title for Aspen comics) strikes my mind as a man who has masterfully built many universes. From Soulfire to Superman Beyond, Krul stands out as a dynamic and highly under appreciated creator. Earth 2 would be a high profile gig for a super start creator. If he can swing the time (he’s involved with a lot of things write now), I think he’d be a stellar fit for Earth 2.

Those are my thoughts and my recommendations, who do you want to see hop aboard Earth 2. More importantly, who do you think DC will put there?

Until the next time,

Rn

DC’s Greatest Hits: August 2013

While I have seriously dropped the ball with my Chopping Block Post, slated for this week. I’ll have to spend time amending it as 3 of the 4 titles cancelled made up my top 5. That being said, we once again get to discuss the excitement of new series’. As some stalwart and long running DC titles will be ending (as well as some shorter running ones) in August, we presumably get some new titles come September. Later today I plan on posting my thoughts, predictions, and hopes for what we could see next from DC. For now, lets look at August’s Greatest Hits!

10. Demon Knights #23/Legion of Super-Heroes #23/Threshold #8/Dial H #15- Everything ends eventually, and DC has already made it clear that even high quality books are on the verge of death should they not sell well. While Dial H is most certainly a victim of this, it is getting an over-sized send off which is sure to please fans. Everyone saw the end of Threshold coming, or at least they should have. My local comic book store owner even mistook another series’ cancellation for it. Demon Knights comes as no surprise, and with it so too will Stormwatch meet its end. Finally the cancellation of the Legion surprised me most. While I have never really been entertained by the concept, it is one of DC’s most iconic and recognizable properties. Perhaps DC is just making way for a revamped Legion property?

9. Katana #7/Justice League of America’s Vibe #7- No longer the newest editions to the New 52, it appears that the two Justice League line titles are on the cusp as well. All series’ that have ended were given at least 8 issues, which appears to be their magic number. Katana and Vibe hit 7 issues in August which means that September could spell certain doom for one or both of them. And if they do make it past issue 8, it is likely they will make it quite a bit further than that.

8. Batgirl #23- When is Gail Simone’s Batgirl not on my list? Not only does the cover look bad ass, but the promise for an intriguing and complex arc revolving around Barbara/Batgirl and her father is extremely appealing, and it feels like something the series has been working too for quite some time. Though Suicide Squad #20 (out now!) changed the picture quite a bit, it is very possible given the nature of the series that the news hasn’t, and may not ever, reached Gotham. This arc is sure to be as heart wrenching as it is thrilling.

7. Batman/Superman #3- I am extremely excited for this new series, and this issue specifically sounds bad ass. Pak and Lee’s title can’t get here soon enough as who doesn’t want to witness the first meeting of the Big Two, them crossing over to Earth 2, a major new (to the 52) villain, and all the fun quips and banter you know will accompany a Superman/Batman team up? That’s what I thought. No one.

6. Green Team #4/The Movement #4- Both make a quite high appearance on the list but each for two seperate reasons. While The Movement could easily be my new favorite series in the New 52, this issue promises major status quo shifts for a young book. A book that can keep adapting and evolving like that is definitely one to watch. Additionally, it appears that the Green Team will be more than a few jokes among rich kids. It looks like the kids get into serious trouble. While the title is sure to be humorous  it will also be nice to see them get knocked around a bit.

5. Superman Unchained #3- It’s still Snyder and Lee on Superman. I can’t stress how bad ass that creative team is! While the first issue isn’t out yet, I know that I’m sure to fall in love with this series from the very start. The solicitation for issue #3 suggests that I have the right to think that way too.

4. Superman #23- Perhaps the biggest shock to the list is the addition of Superman, which has made it upon multiple lists. The H’el on Earth event not only helped make the Superman line a revenue engine for at least a bit, it also told an intriguing and thoughtful story. Come August it looks like the Superman line will do it again, as the “Psi-War” event will begin. While we don’t know who all will be apart of the conflict (Superboy is confirmed), it is sure to make the Superman line a hot spot for readers. Perfect since a certain movie comes out in just over a month…

3. Teen Titans #23- I don’t read Teen Titans. Not currently anyway. It isn’t that it didn’t appeal to me, I just felt I wanted to spend my money and time investing else where. Teen Titans is ranked this high due to what it could represent. As the Young Justice line will now fall to just a single title come September, it is likely that another Young Justice book will be launched to accompany it. The solicitation for Teen Titans #23 reads “Kid Flash finds himself running from his past as a growing rift between Red Robin and Superboy boils over and could tear the Teen Titans apart”. We know that the Teen Titans are the only remaining YJ title due to it’s quality and marketability. I have already predicted it once, but could the rise of a splinter Teen Titans teem be on the way? Check back later for more details.

2. Trinity of Sin Pandora #3/Trinity of Sin Phantom Stranger #11- One of the biggest factors to a major comic event are its tie-ins. Either the main story gets confusing without them, or gets complicated by them. There are too numerous examples of both to list here. Both of the Trinity of Sin titles will be tying into the epic Trinity War event in August. While the event itself is contained to just six issues of story, the additional stories from Pandora and Phantom Stranger can easily add depth and flavor to the event. So anyone checking out Trinity War should be advised to read these two, while staying weary of past tie-ins over complication for the plot. Thankfully the solicit for these two seems pretty  straight forward.

1. Trinity War Chapters 4, 5, and 6- By this point we all know that Trinity War takes place within the Justice League titles, so I felt no need to list them out. Trinity War has been teased in some way or another since the beginning of the New 52 as threads from all across the DC Universe collide to provide the New 52 their first truly epic event story. However, staying true to the “new” portion of their name, they are doing it differently by not publishing a mini or maxi series to accompany the tie ins. While relatively short, the effects and ramifications of the series are sure to be felt across the New 52 for a much longer time after this. Specifically, what will happen come September?

Well those are my thoughts, stay tuned for my thoughts on the next batch of DC titles.

Until the next time,

Rn

Best of 2012: Comics

A week ago I asked everyone to join in voting for the best new comics of the year. I wanted to see how what my followers thought was the best, knowing that it could be different from mine. Here are the top ten from my poll.

10. Worlds Finest
9. Daredevil: End of Days (write in)
8. Dial H (write in)
7. Peter Panzerfaust (write in)
6. Sword of Sorcery
5. Ozymandias
4. Manhattan Projects
3. Earth 2
2. Hawkeye
1. Saga

Now that we have your selections out of the way, let me present to you my picks and reasoning for the best comics of the year.

10. Happy!- When Grant Morrison announced he was leaving DC, it was made clear that he would be working on quite a few creator owned comics. Happy! is the first of those comics, and it’s quite an interesting one. Perhaps the darkest comic on the list, Happy! is a blend of crime and My Little Pony. If that sounds weird, then you’ve never really payed attention to Morrison. Docking in three issues this year, the 4 part mini series has proven that it is one of the best comics on the shelf. This comic is certainly one of the most original comics in the market, and one of the most humorous.

9. The Shadow- When Dynamite said they’d be relaunching the Shadow, I was all over it. Unfortunately I wasn’t. A series of unfortunate events led me to miss most of the run. It wasn’t until I received volume one for Christmas and picked up back issues of the other issues. No matter the writer, this series has proven itself to not only reinvigorate one of the oldest franchises in history, but to put it in contention with any hero from the big two. Docking in at 8 issues, with an annual and a special, The success of the Shadow made way for Dynamite’s Masks comic. Which is easily one of the best things out there (but a little to green to be included on this list). The Shadow is one part super hero, one part anti hero, and one part crime story. Perfectly blended into one of the most unique and awesome characters on the shelf.

8. Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom: The latest installment in the Rocketeer franchise blew me away. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee know how to write the high flying hero. One of the more surprising aspects of this mini was its focus on humor. While I’m not a fan of joke or gag comics (as evidence by my deep hatred of Deadpool), the blend of fantasy elements made this comic quite fun and entertaining. Not only that, the interactions between the franchises beloved characters are more dynamic than we’ve seen in a long time. This comic was successful to the point that we will be getting another Rocketeer mini (albeit by a different team) early this year. It takes class and talent to write a good Rocketeer, and Cargo of Doom was better than fans could have expected.

7. Minutemen- Docking in at 5 of its six issues, Minutemen is one of the unsung heroes of this year. Darwyn Cooke’s comic has yet to generate any substantial negative buzz, and everyone is brimming with positive comments when a new issue is released. Minutemen tells a story that every fan of Watchmen wanted to hear, and has done it with such great energy. Minutemen leaves readers begging for more, and in doing so as effectively proven that Watchmen content can be both enticing and thrilling even as a prequel. Minutemen does nothing but enhance the experience of the original work, as Cooke’s characters are barely seen within the work itself. Minutemen is as gorgeous as it is well written. A rare treat, and a treat that deserves to have its day.

6. Sword of Sorcery- Clocking in at 4 issues, Sword of Sorcery is the greenest of the series’ within my top ten list. Despite this it has proven itself to be the best work to come out of DC’s Third Wave, and one of the best things DC has published in general. Sword of Sorcery is a blend of great writing, brilliant art (some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen), and proves that an anthology can have an interesting and enjoyable second story, as the original Beowulf back up is the one of the best stories I’ve read. Whether it’s a back up or not. Sword of Sorcery was a title I scorned at first, not seeing the point of Amethyst, nor seeing why the DCU wanted to go that direction. Now that I’ve seen how great it is, I’m so very glad that it did.

5. Ozymandias- With just over half of its six issues released, Ozymandias is further proof that Before Watchmen had room to explore the characters within it. Ozymandias is brilliantly written and masterfully drawn. While Len Wein’s script is explosive, it is Jae Lee’s art that makes this series what it is. The story is dynamic and diverse. Making an already fleshed out character that much more rounded. Ozymandias has gone from being super intelligent douche. To a masterful craftsman with emotional reasoning behind many of his decisions. While still cold, Ozymandias now has a heart. And that’s something few of us ever imagined possible.

4. Manhattan Projects- Hickman’s brilliant re imagining of history is one of the most fun things on the shelves. It is involving intriguing, and truly well done. Hickman redefines the major scientists of the 20th century, mending them to better serve this epic tale. And while rooted in reality, this comic goes boldly into directions that only this comic can explore. The greatest thing about this series is that it can go literally anywhere. Everything else on the shelf seems to have a set list of what can and can’t happen to it’s characters and story. This comic demolishes this idea.

3. Earth 2- The partner earth to the main DCU earth, Earth 2’s charm lies not within it’s differences but within its similarities with the stories and characters we know. The first issue of this comic is the same as the first arc of Justice League, except the story takes a wonderfully different turn. Being able to watch a universe expand in every direction is a great sight. James Robinson chooses not to focus on one specific group, but on many different characters, heroes and villains. We see the story progress in every direction, and only 8 issues in, we know that the best is yet to come. The feel of the comic has yet to wear off, evidence of brilliant story telling.

2. Hawkeye- I can’t believe this comic is the second on the list. Hawkeye was one of my least favorite characters in the entire Marvel Universe. But Fractions focus on Hawkguy make this series something quite special. With 6 issues under its belt, Hawkeye has established itself as one of the best things Marvel publishes. Knowing that it is unaffected by the major events of the universe makes this comic that much better too. This comic deserves to be able to go in any direction, and an editorially mandated event could kill the charm of this series. Aja’s art too is a big appeal of this story, it’s simple, but gorgeous. Hawkeye is primed to be a big contender in this next years Eisner Awards. Too bad the next series will beat it.

1. Saga- Could there be any other? Both Vaughn and Staples made it onto my other lists, and this comic made it onto just about everyone’s list. This comic is as fun as it is innovative. A weird ass tale of goat people waging wars against fairies, Saga has charmed the world of comics over. This comic is destined to be the hit of the generation. And I have no doubt that this will become Image’s future star. While Walking Dead might eclipse everything that Image does. As soon as Saga lands its movie deal, it’s all over. And we can be glad because we have been reading it since the very beginning.

I hope you enjoy this list, and I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed all of these comics on the list. If you are a new reader, anything on this list is a great place to start, and my picks include comics from not just Marvel and DC, but from Image, Dynamite, and IDW as well.

Happy 2013 everyone.

Rn

 

Top of the Shelf: Issue #1

It occurred to me that with my cancellation of my “This Week in Comics Feature” my readers never get the chance to hear me discuss the full extent of what I read. They hear me rave or condone about titles I do reviews on, but those only make up a small portion of what I read. Thus every week I will offer a recap from the previous week, detailing my favorite comics from the week past.

5. Animal Man #15- I don’t read this title, not because I’m a dimbus and don’t recognize how great it is, just that I hate to pick up a title late in the game. I’m now 13 issues behind in it, and as far as I know only 1 of the trade’s is out. That said, Lemire is currently one of my favorite writers and I think the impending holiday’s will allow me to get caught up on Animal Man (and Swamp Thing too). Now on to this issue, while I had little idea of what was going on, I was tipped off to buy this from Travis as it saw Monsieur Mallah and The Brain fighting against our heroes. While this reality isn’t that of the normal DCU, it does help lend to the possibility of a Doom Patrol, especially with Niles’ stint on Ravagers, and let me tell you, a new Doom Patrol ongoing is something I’d kill to see.

4. Hawkeye #5- This comic is still quite pleasing, having very few low moments with 5 issues under it’s belt. While Pullido’s art isn’t as strong as Aja’s, it is significantly better in this issue than it was in #4. What really made this issue shine for me is the ending, which was not only humorous, but pandered to my personal philosophy on super heroes. It is revealed that Hawkeye was telling the truth when he said he never killed anyone. The video   was a fake, one of three forgery’s meant to throw everyone off.

3. Stormwatch #15- I have long discussed my disgust for the direction Stormwatch has taken since Cornell’s departure. This issue astounded me, being the best issue this series has had in a long time. While I had been worried about what will happen in the future (seeing the solicits for a “rogue member” and now “the death of a member”) this issue confirmed that it will not be Midnighter nor Apollo, the two characters I care about. This issue seems like the direct continuation of the series, and important in the direction of the characters as a whole. This issue could easily fall as issue #7 (the real #7-#14 are forgettable). Some great moments that have restored my faith in the direction of the title, and have made me happy with the current creative team.

2. Earth 2 #7- Though Nicola Scott is away for this issue, it doesn’t slow down in the least. This issue serves as filler, jumping on point, and eye candy. Being between arcs allows for  current readers to miss it, and provides a fresh start for new readers. This issue however gets not one, but three pieces on the board, playing towards a prospective JSA team/title. We get to see Mister Terrific for the first time since #2 (mind controlled by Sloan), we get to see more of this universes’ Sandman and where he falls with the political issues, and finally get to see Red Tornado (now modeled after a female). More to the point, the issue suggests that Khan will have something to do with the creation of this worlds JSA.

1. Detective Comics #15- Long since lapsed from this title, this issue proved that I can’t keep missing it. The new team has been aboard for three issues now, and I need to get all of them. This issue is equal parts fun and thrilling, and displays a much more intellectual Batman. However what really highlights this issue is the major status quo shift within the gangs of Gotham. Some of the best stories have come out of Gotham gang warfare, and this could easily be an early tease at a much major event. Maybe the next Batman event will be lead by Layman? Something I wouldn’t mind seeing in the least.

What was top of the shelf for you this week?

Until the next time, you can call me Emperor Penguin

Rn