End of an Era

allred

By the time this is posted, I will have read Action Comics 1000. However, by the time of writing this we are a day away. I have already voiced my opinions on Brian Michael Bendis and his unfortunate control over the entire Superman family. That said, as this new era for Superman begins I would like to look back at some of my favorite Superman stories of all time. I doubt that anything out of Bendis’ run comes close to challenging this list, but I might be surprised. I probably won’t. With that said, here we go.

allstar

All Star Superman

This book is quite literally the best Superman book ever published and can challenge for best comic of all time. The animated movie failed to hit the mark (mostly because they cut 6 chapters of the book out entirely. It also is incredibly hard to translate Frank Quietly’s art into film. That isn’t really any fault of the film. This book is a master piece, that can’t really get its message across outside of the comic. That makes this book all the better. Look I could spend all day writing about this book. I really could, but give it a read for yourself if you haven’t. If you have, maybe read it once more to remind yourself the standards Bendis has in front of him.

Action 775

Action Comics 775

The inspiration for Superman vs the Elite, a surprisingly good adaption of the story. This book answers the age old question, why shouldn’t Superman kill? While several decades old at this point, the book is still relevant today. Especially with the likes of Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice, and Justice League mucking up the collective conscious of the character. This book shows us what happens if Superman does cross that line. Needless to say, it isn’t a pretty picture. Unlike the films, this book does a 180 and shows that all of this was masterfully choreographed to show why Superman does what he does. Why he is what he is. This book brings about one of my favorite things about Superman. He is inspired by people. While the non powered society looks at him as the beacon of hope, he sees that beacon right back at us. That is why he protects us. And that is why he doesn’t cross that line. A truly beautiful story.

Lara

Superman Birthright

This book absolutely deserves to be in the running for best Superman story. It tops All Star as best on several of my friend’s list.  While this book is fantastic in its own right, it is what it does different that sets it apart from the rest. Much of the Superman mythos is defined by Jor El. It wasn’t until Birthright that Lara achieved the same level of reverence that Jor gets. Turning is mom from a spectator into a bad ass in her own right. Truly something that should have done decades ago.

Final

The Final Days of Superman

A new entry onto the list, and one that has now been written out with the Superman Reborn plotline. This book came out at the right time. Just before Rebirth, Superman was made the most relevant he ever was during the New 52. He was plagued by bad writing, and inconsistent approaches. Yet Peter Tomasi knew what he wanted to do, and made a modern day All Star. Any story that has Superman die apparently has to be made into film, and an animated adaptation of this is on its way already. This story is full of heart, character, and emotion. After years of languishing as a character, Tomasi finally gave him his own voice and readied readers for better times to come. I am still sad to see him go. He is almost single handedly responsible for the multiple years of success.

Superman wallpaper

Kingdom Come

This story is famous for a lot of reasons. It ended the 90’s hyper extremism. It is another fabulous book by Mark Waid. It is impeccably crafted by Alex Ross. It also asks the question of what happens in a world with Superman. What happens if he just gives up. That answer is nothing good. This book explores Clark as he attempts to come to sense with the changing world. It demonstrates just what Superman means to the world, and manages to do so without killing him. I always point this book out to people who like an ‘edgier Superman’. This is as close as you get, and he still never once crosses the line. This book is just a masterpiece from top to bottom. Especially good, as it showcases an insane amount of DC’s pantheon of heroes.

Advertisements

So Now Who’s DC’s Smartest?

Doomsday-Clock-2-Featured-Image

Mild spoilers for DC’s Doomsday Clock coming up. So Black Alert is on for anyone who hasn’t caught up with Doomsday Clock.

Doomsday Clock is two issues in and has raised a ton of questions so far. With Ozymandias in the universe, where does the hierarchy of DC’s smartest people stand now. The top three were always Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, and Michael Holt (Mr. Terrific). The next two are subjective, but some combination of Will Magnus, Dr. Sivana, T.O Morrow.  New 52 introduced Silas Stone as a an additional consideration on the smart chart. Now we have to factor in Ozymandias. It may be an effort in futility, but I am going to try to do it anyway.

It is easy enough to dismiss Sivana and Morrow. They are smart, but they can’t quite keep up with the top three of this list. Ozymandias was capable of doing just about anything in his universe. So he most definitely slots in within the top 3. Michael is capable of hopping through universes (managed to do it between Earth Prime and Earth 2) and a very smart entrepreneur. Arguably capable of rivaling Veidt’s business exploits. His T Face Plate documents encounters. Giving him an instant data base he can draw upon at a moments notice. His T Spheres offer a diverse offensive and defensive capabilities. To put it lightly, he is prepared for any situation. He might often be dismissed as lesser than the top 2, but he is every bit as much of a threat as they are. Yet, he was not the target of Ozymandias’ investigation. Only Lex and Bruce, for that reason, the worlds self appointed Third Smartest Man has been demoted to the 4th. He’ll have to do some rebranding it seems.

This leaves Bruce and Lex. the Worlds Greatest Detective and the world’s smartest man. Or at least this worlds smartest man. There is no doubt how intelligent and powerful these two men are. Yet in Doomsday Clock #2, Adrian seems to have little interest talking to Bruce. That leads Rorschach to go talk to him. He quickly figures out a way into the Batcave, and discovers Batman. Lex meanwhile appears to have no time for Ozymandias and quickly calls security. Scoffing at the notion that Veidt could have as superior intellect. So where does Ozymandias fit into the hierarchy. We know full well what Bruce and Lex are capable of. And when comparing their exploits, Veidt seems to pale in comparison. It is made worse that Veidt’s plans were undone by a journal and his world has fallen back into the same despair he attempted to fix. In a fight, it appears clear that Lex and Bruce would both have the upper hand. Bruce can easily out fight him, and Lex can just wait him out. Or crash a satellite into him. Which ever came first.

Given the similarities between Veidt and Holt, it appears that he is excluded from the top tier of smarts. Both Bruce and Lex appear to retain their ranks at first and second. Leaving Ozymandias to slot in as the DC Universe’s third smartest man. I’ll look at getting Michael Holt a consolation basket.

 

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

Live and Let Die

Now that I’ve spent some time covering why all I got out of reading and blogging, lets discuss some current events. Today’s topic in particular are the announced titles being cancelled from DC and the impending launches to go with it.

We already knew that Teen Titans was getting scrubbed, yet there was more shocking news of cancellations to go along with that. The most shocking and perhaps most horrifying to comic fans is the cancellation of Nightwing. One of DC’s most consistent and better sold books, something is definitely going on with the character to drive the cancellation of his book. Either he’s changing face and name to try to protect himself after Forever Evil or he isn’t making it out of Forever Evil (but I’ll discuss more on that at a later date).

The other books were predictable. Both Stormwatch and Suicide Squad had been given new creative teams to avert looming cancellation. Unfortunately for them, the quality of each just wasn’t enough (even though the recent Suicide Squad has been sensational). Superman Unchained too seems to be getting ended all too soon.

What’s more important is the titles taking their place. Aquaman and the Others, Secret Origins, Sinestro, JLU, and Batman Eternal are not only staffed with great creative teams, but bring together some of the best concepts of the New 52. I will personally be giving all a shot, and titles like Batman Eternal and Sinestro are most likely getting added to my pull list permanently.

So that’s April. But what about May? Well, if you are clever (and I am) you can begin to project what May looks like. Most the aforementioned titles are coming in to replace books like Green Team, Vibe, Katana, and Dark Knight. Though the New 52 is not set on the “52”, they will need to launch at least a few new titles to get close to their normal 47-50. One of which is Future’s End, which inexplicably starts in the end of Stormwatch. Another title we can be sure to see is a relaunch of the Teen Titans. I’m positive DC will try to push a new team and title as soon as possible. Nightwing’s end would suggest that another Bat title isn’t far away either.

Looking at context clues from the last few months and April’s solicitations, two characters could be poised to take center stage. Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. With Lex’s impending status as leader of the Justice League and his presence in the upcoming Superman arc, Luthor seems set to get his own title. It seemed likely long before April, and the recent round of solicits only indicate greater plans for the worlds super-man. Wonder Woman too will be all over the place. And while it is hard to believe that she’ll have a book outside of her own and Superman/Wonder Woman, it shouldn’t. Superman is the star of no less than 4 books a time, and Batman’s in pretty much everything. It would only make sense for her to have a greater presence in the DCU. With the world in shambles, Wonder Woman could be just the character needed to help rebuild the universe and inspire heroes, gods, and mortals alike. I could easily see Wonder Woman in a title focused on the Greek Pantheon or as the leader of her own team (I mean, Aquaman’s doing it).

And as always there is my normal wish list of DC books. Cyborg, Captain Marvel, Steel, Milestone, and relaunched Wildstorm book are all on my personal wishlist for various reasons.

So what’s next? Any bold new predictions for the future of the DC Universe?

Until the next time,

Rn

 

Evaluating an Event

In my return to the land of the living late last week, I discussed where I have been what helped get me back into the industry. One major aspects of my fall from monthly reading of comics were the continuous events going on. At the time my pull list consisted of multiple Marvel titles, including Uncanny X-Men, X-(Wo)Men, New Avengers, Avengers and others. Then Marvel launched Infinity. At the same time, they launched into Battle of the Atom. Both of those events consumed all the titles listed above, trying to keep track of where the story was in each title would have forced me to read other titles. Rather than do that, I found myself distancing myself from each of those titles. While I am normally not a stranger to events, I ignored both of these thanks in part to them taking place simultaneously. Not only that, the event Inhumanity launched almost immediately after that. The over saturation of events forced me to back away from some of my favorite titles.

Yet, the real reason I found myself dropping the books was due to the lack of consequences. We knew well before Infinity was over that it would lead right to Inhumanity. We didn’t have to worry about real consequences of a “cosmic” event like Infinity. Earth would survive and so would all of our heroes. The sense of drama was dramatically lost in the shuffle, and while Hickman is masterful at large frame plot lines, he couldn’t quite write in the stakes to this book. Additionally, having the aftermath and fallout of an event be another event seems like a terrible idea. Rather than do that, a title should go back to its roots and feature the individual character or characters of each of the books reeling from the drama.

While controversial, I will plug in Forever Evil. Much like Marvel, DC is no stranger to events. While Forever Evil is far reaching and more expansive then it needs to be, the core of the event feels like it has real stakes. We have no idea how the world will be saved, and in addition to that, we know that the world will have to be different. Dick Greyson has been outed as Nightwing, Cyborg lost most of the rest of his humanity, Captain Cold was made human again, and so much more. There are real consequences for characters of varying importance. I have had a chance to talk with numerous consumers who have said as much. Since I started work at my local comic book store, the event that has gotten the best reception has been Forever Evil. While we normally sell more DC books than Marvel, customers that pick up Marvel almost exclusively have begun to pick up Forever Evil.\

While I admit I am personally biased, a fact frequent readers know well, there is a clear problem with the saturation of events in the comic industry. Both Marvel and DC are guilty of perpetuating extremely long event series and forcing too many writers to sacrifice their stories so that they can tie in with an event. Hopefully we are at an end of it. Hopefully The All-New Marvel now will have the ability to grow on its own post Inhumanity and hopefully DC will truly explore the consequences of Forever Evil.

Now I ask you all, have you been finding modern event comics as uneventful as I have?

Until the next time,

Rn

Continuing the Evil

Hey there everyone! As I am still finishing up school, the past few weeks have been dominated by mid terms, papers, and other uspeakable academic related horrors. That being said, I am hopefully back on track to providing you daily commentary on all things nerdy.

The thing I have been meaning to discuss the most is the multiple spin off books that have come out of Forever Evil, as that is the comic event that is consuming most of my attention and money at the moment.

After a rather strong villains month in September, DC attempts to keep the pace with the rest of the Forever Evil brand in September, and so far it hasn’t been all that great. Forever Evil #2 was extremely well done, and I look forward to that more than any other book in the event. Arkham War #1 was nothing more than a long Bane monologue. We saw nothing significant happen, and featured very little of Arkham or of War. Though this is due to the nature of a set up issue, this issue still lacks much to be desired.

Additionally, Rogue’s Rebellion wasn’t sensational either. Though I enjoyed it much more so than Arkham War, this issue too felt more like staged rehashing than it did a new story. Majority of the issue is either nothing new, or nothing relevant. This issue did create a great dynamic between Captain Cold and the Mirror Master. I was shocked as to how well it was done, and glad to see at least two of the group were done arguing.

Justice League of America was also uninteresting. Though we see the fact that all of our heroes are trapped inside a sentient prison, nothing in the prison makes sense. We see Wonder Woman crying and ashamed, Superman attempting to reverse time, and Shazam destroying and murdering the city. All of this seemed like a far cry from the hereos we know best. And though the prison may be psychological it has yet to demonstrate why it can break our heroes so easily.

Perhaps the creme of the crop was Suicide Squad. The issue features two SS teams both believing to be hired by Waller, when one is actually working against her. This issue unites Deadshot, Harley, and Captain Boomerang and pits them against the combined forces of the Unknown Soldier, Steel, and Power Girl. The concept that these heroes and villains could potentially work together is enough to make any fan excited, but what was more exciting was the appearance of Steel. Steel is one of my favorite characters in DC’s arsenal, and has only shown up in three different series to date (this, Rotworld, and Action Comics). I am definitely excited to see where this goes in the future, and where Matt Kindt takes these characters.

Is there anything you particularly loved or hated out of the tie in books we’ve gotten thus far? If so, be sure to let me know.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Superman/Wonder Woman #1

So like many people, I was extremely skeptical about this series. Charles Soule (one of DC’s new go to guys) teased that it would have romance and wouldn’t be an entirely serious action book. At the time of the announcement only Tony S. Daniel’s art was appealing about the book. Since then however, it was revealed that Doomsday would be the first villain for the book, which implied that it would have quite a bit more action than initially stated. All in all, I couldn’t not give this book a shot, so here is what I liked about it.

1. Tony S. Daniel’s art is top of his game in this one. Whereas his previous work in Action Comics wasn’t as great as some of his previous works, the splash panels and pages in this are gorgeous. Truly something to see.
2. The opening of the book implies a second villain involved in the series, one with more brains than brawn.
3. There are some tender moments between the two, but for the most part we see the characters as individuals and not as an “item”.
4. Despite her second book being with her boyfriend, Wonder Woman is definitely the best part of the book. Her dialogue and actions are mostly spot on for her character, and affirm that she’s a bad ass.

Rating before reading: 5
Rating after reading: 7

I hate to say it, but this book was a rather pleasant read. There are problems, sure. But those issues have nothing to do with the relationship of the characters. Though Soule teased an abundance of affection, the title characters don’t even share a kiss within the pages of this issue. Instead we see a stirring parallel as Diana and Clark go about there days. Clark trying to deal with Cat (his business partner of sorts) and Diana doing what she does best (fighting).

It was this scene that sold me on the book, my enjoyment hinged almost solely on the characterization and presentation of Wonder Woman. And while the book had its share of missteps where she was concerned, as a whole the book was true to form. She is a warrior princess/god. Furthermore Superman’s gift to Diana was an alien flower. Diana’s gift to Clark was a magical blade that could cut Superman. She didn’t give the sword to him, instead she promised to teach him how to fight. If that isn’t Wonder Woman at her core, then I don’t know what is.

So while I was skeptical at first, I found myself not only enjoying the issue as a whole, but enjoying the characterization of Wonder Woman by herself.

Until the next time,

Rn