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

The Writing Writer: Harley Quinn # 1

Alright, now that the illustrious Ravingnerd has had his time at the podium, it’s my turn to give my opinions on some of this week’s entries into DC’s Villain Month.  First up is Harley Quinn, the surprise hit.

I love my some Harley.  I quickly fell in love with her after seeing her in the Batman animated series.  She was smart, funny, and really came into her own; growing from Joker’s arm candy to a force to be reckoned.  I was also happy with her introduction and subsequent development in comics.  Having said that, I haven’t been too keen on what I’ve seen of her in the new 52.  From what I’ve seen she’s been portrayed as a rampaging sociopath rather than the misguided schizophrenic that I was remember.  I also didn’t like the costume change as her old costume was an intentional pun that also made her stand out from the other women of the Batverse.  So imagine my surprise when I picked up Harley Quinn #1 and really enjoyed it. 

The book gave a context to the more random and violent nature to 52 Harley.  It also showed the deeper roots to her insanity beyond the whole loving the Joker and getting a face full of laughing gas.  Yes I know this time around her origins are different but you get what I’m saying.  What made this book good was that it wasn’t an origin story like most of the other Villain Month books are trying to be, it’s a coming of age story.  Every page, every detail of this comic reveals to audience the path that lead Harley to where she is now.  Even her costume becomes a narrative tool to show us the various stages to her journey of self discovery. 

With little expectation and a big payoff, Harley Quinn #1was definitely worth the read

Final Verdict: It was a GAS!   *heh*

Ravingnerd Reviews: Harley Quinn #1

Now I know Harley gets another first issue just a few months ago, but I’ll differentiate the two titles later. Also, I know the Writing Writer wanted to be read this issue, so you’ll probably see his thoughts on the matter later. This isn’t designed to confuse anyone, it was just so damn good that we had to talk about it. Or at least I thought it was good, I can’t speak for him.

This issue is plain and simple what the Joker issue should have been. It is off color, cruelly funny, and chaotic. While Joker’s was a sappy tale of love and loss, Harley’s is all chaos, with just a sprinkling of origin to freshen up the story. Matt Kindt knocks yet another book out of the park, proving that his new posting as writer on Suicide Squad was not misplaced. This is now two surprisingly fabulous issues under his belt in just two weeks. Neil Googe is the artist for the issue, and while he has a very distinct style, I think it was right at home with this issue. It was just phenomenal. Before we get to the verdict, here is what I liked about the issue.

1. Only a sprinkling of origin was had, and all of which to very well done internal dialogue.
2. We see Harley leave the Secret Society and the issue features Deadshot as he recruits her for the new Suicide Squad.
3. It’s chaotic. In a devastating way.

Rating before reading: 6
Rating after reading: 8

This book features pure carnage and chaos, the same type that should have been seen during the Joker issue. In a horrifying and almost unthinkable fashion, Harley racks up more bodies than we’ve seen a villain do in a long time. Quite frankly, she puts the villain in villain month. While most of the issues so far have featured origins or internal conflict as to whether to join the Secret Society, only Harley (and to an extent Two-Face) have delivered upon the pure carnage that we would expect to happen in a world without villains. All of this carnage ensues as Harley tells us about her ability to not perceive pain. She knows that people are upset by something, but doesn’t know when to stop. And she clearly doesn’t. The brilliant characterization and wonderful use of dialogue not only makes this issue a gem, but shows Harley as being more terrifying and more murderous than her dear puddin’, and that was a pleasant surprise I never expected.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Presents: Batman the Animated Series, Volume 1, Part 2

Hello everyone! I have finally completed the last half of BTAS! This half was just as solid as the first, and did a brilliant job at introducing the rest of Batman’s Rogue Gallery. The voice actors in this half of the series were just as brilliant (n some cases, phenomenally so).

The latter half of the season featured two great episodes. One follows the self redemption of a mobster, with Batman acting as his guide, the other featuring a certain someone from Batman’s past. But more on that episode later.

Scarecrow makes two appearances in the second half. Both of these are done really well, and redeems the poor portrayal of Scarecrow in the first half.

We see the introduction of Catwoman, and right away her character is flirting with Batman. While I disliked that she was blonde, I loved her interactions with Batman and others, plus her costume is done well (there are quite a few poor Catwoman costumes, this is not one of them).

We see the introduction of The Claw. This character doesn’t exist in comics, and it’s almost a shame. An international terrorist with plans for world destruction. This MO is a refreshing change from Batman’s normal villains. Plus her voice is done by Kate Mulgrew. So you know, Star Trek is represented!

Mad Hatter. What a good portrayal of this character, immortalized by the late Roddy McDowell. I can’t really say much else, all I can do is appreciate McDowell’s brilliance in both voice and acting.

Killer Croc’s portrayal is less than stellar. His skin is grey and the episode he’s in just isn’t great. But nobody really cares about him anyway.

Clayface is another villain done poorly. The only thing that makes this worse than KC is that he has a two parter.

Can I say that I love Clock King? He is terrifying, intelligent, and crazed. He is done really well and I enjoy Corey Burton doing the voice for him as well. Cold. Calculating. Bad ass.

We also see the introduction of one of the most famous and beloved characters in the Batman franchise, Harley Quinn! I had a many fan flip-out moment when she showed up and I realized that this was her first appearance.

Favorite Episode: Beware the Grey Ghost. This episode featured Adam West doing the voice for a washed up actor who used to play fictional super hero. Not only was it awesome to have two generation of Bat-men voice along side each other, but it does flesh out Bruce’s backstory some both in family and his inspirations. A great episode, and perhaps one of the best of the series.

Well those are my thoughts on the latter half of volume 1, within a few days you should expect a post on volume two!

Until the next time, live long and prosper.

Rn