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

Ravingnerd Reviews: Trigon #1

Talk about a comic no one was looking forward to! I have yet to run across anyone that was ecstatic to read Trigon #1, and I certainly was not excited to read and review it. There was but one saving grace presented at the beginning. Marv Wolfman. Comic book legend, but more important, one of the grandmasters of the Teen Titans.Sure to stop all of Tumblr’s criticisms about Scott Lobdell in its tracks. Though one of the Teen Titans’ biggest foes, Trigon has appeared quite often in the Phantom Stranger, and I can honestly say I only know his new incarnation from that series. Let’s start with what I like.

1. Perpetually arrogant, even before he was the demon lord we know now, he was an arrogant and scheming being.
2. The story shows him seeking to sire the perfect offspring, yet his three male offspring are “imperfect”, another fascinating concept.
3. The story is from Raven’s mothers point of view, as she’s enlisting someone’s help to bring him down. Whether that’s us as a reader or the Teen Titans is unclear.

Rating before reading: 4
Rating after reading: 5

This issue was no where near as dismal as I expected, and I’ll site CAFU’s art as one of the dominant reasons as to why. That being said, nothing really happens in the comic. It’s not bad, but it is far from exceptional. It just exists as a “clever” read. The book focuses on nothing but Trigon’s obsession with siring the perfect heir, and that just doesn’t make an entire issue worth of a story. Had we actually gotten to know Raven’s mother or even got some more information about Raven, this book could have been monumentally better. So while it defied my expectations, only because I had low expectations for it anyway. I’m not sure it has anything to do with Wolfman, it’s just the story itself. The writing was fine and involving, but the overall plot was dull and could not hope to keep a readers attention for very long. The only real boon it has is CAFU’s brilliance when it comes to decisive action. CAFU has long been good at drawing action sequences, and this book is no exception. The problem is the art alone isn’t enough to save the comic from the mundane. Sorry Titan’s fans, I guess you’ll have to wait longer for a version of the characters you like.

Until the next time,

Rn

The Trinity of Trinity War

Well that was a doozy! I’ll go ahead and say now that this has fairly major spoilers for Trinity War, and if you haven’t read it I’ll advise you to stop now if you’re worried about it.

First things first. All the Trinities threw us for loops. The trio of Justice League’s, the triumvirate of sinners, and even the trinity of heroes had nothing to do with the “Trinity”. All played major parts in the event, for sure, but who could have prepared themselves for this? Since we first met the Outsider last month, I discussed quite heavily my theory that it could be Alfred. And I wasn’t wrong. It just wasn’t the Alfred we were expecting.

As we are going to be missing out on all of our favorite heroes for the month let’s keep tabs on what they are dealing with in addition to the onslaught ushered in by the Crime Syndicate:

Superman has a shard of Kryptonite in his head
Cyborg is near death with all of his cybernetic parts forming the evil Grid
Pandora’s box forced all of our heroes to beat each other to a pulp
Billy Batson is still evil
Baz is occupied trying to keep Vic alive
Phantom Stranger is still lost in the after life
Oh yeah, and the Atom is evil and responsible for killing Doctor Light

That’s a lot to handle without having to face your fully energized evil counter parts.

No wonder the Earth has to be defended by its greatest villains!

So join me as the world plunges into darkness, and evil must take on evil for the sake of the world. Regardless of the outcome, dark times are ahead.

Let me know what you think of the issue, and what villain issues will you pick up?

Until then, 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

Marvel VS DC Monday’s #7

It’s that time of the week again, and the absence caused by being stuck in an airport in Cleveland last week has only fueled MFT and I’s competitive edge. We are both out for blood this week, and are anxious to prove who had the biggest and best week in comics. The last bout ended in a 4-2 victory for my beloved DC which has improved to a 5-1 lead over Marvel overall.

Now it’s time for the true blue believers to shine as I discuss why DC most undoubtedly had the greatest week last week.

1. Green Arrow #19- Lemire has done a miraculous thing, turning around Green Arrow after just three issues and making it easily the best thing on the market, and easily the best comic that came out of the last week. Paired perfectly with Lemire is Sorrentino, who’s art is as fluid and and involved as ever. She brilliantly depicts the extreme amount of movement and action within the pages of this comic, in a way few artists can do. If you have still hesitated to pick up this series, then shame on you. This series is absolutely dynamic and has completely reinvigorated the character. It’s the Green Arrow you’ve been waiting to see since the beginning of the New 52. And you are only 3 issues behind.

2. Detective Comics #19- The 900th issue spectacular is easily worth the 7.99 cover price. Not only are Layman and Fabok able to tell an expanded version of Man-Bat’s New 52 origin, but are able to do it while keeping pace with everything else that has gone down in the Bat-Universe in the past few months. This  issue proves that the team is capable and deserving of being the leader of the new Batman Status Quo. In addition, threads to new stories in Detective Comics, Dark Knight, Talon, and Batman itself have all been weaved within the pages of this book. While not only focusing on the future, the issue cleverly references the monument of becoming the second comic ever to reach 900 issues. The last anniversary comic was Amazing Spider-Man #700, which was as big a pile of shit and waste of money as you could ever see. Detective Comics #19 proves that celebratory comics can be well worth the extended cover price.

3. Action Comics #19- It’s fitting that the oldest comic on the market would have a stellar week as well. While this will be Diggle’s only issue on Action, I have to say it was the best single Superman story in the New 52. It featured sparks between Lois and Clark, some big action, and the most bad ass looking Lex we’ve seen since the relaunch. It was a Superman fan’s dream come true. And while Diggle is now gone, it was Tony S. Daniel’s art that really made this comic soar. Daniel will be taking over writing duties for the next two issues, and while it might not come close to this single issue the quality of the arc isn’t going to tank.

4. Green Lantern #19- It has been a while since a Green Lantern comic has really thrilled me. We’ve been stuck in events that made no sense if you didn’t read the entirety of the Lantern-verse (which I don’t). That paired with personal reasons as to why GL was no longer enjoyable has made for an abysmal few months of Green Lantern comics. This issue returned to what I have loved about the run in the New 52: Sinestro. In an entirely Sinestro centric issue we see not only Sinestro shaken to his very core, but a massive alteration to the the Green Lantern universe as well. In an issue as thrilling as the special cover would suggest, I have been waiting for this for the longest time.

5. Phantom Stranger #7- While taking a sidetrack from the ongoing plot of the series, the issue manages to hit quite a few high notes. Not only do we see the introduction (and demise?) of Jack Ryder in the New 52, but we get to see more of God as the adorable Terrier. All the while the Question works in the background to an exciting, albeit rather spoiled (look at the cover) conclusion. Phantom Stranger just continues to please, and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon (Trinity War is only 3 months away!)

Now that you’ve heard from me, you are obligated to listen to MoreFunTravis’ argument before voting for DC.

I need just one book this week to win.  Just one.  One Marvel title that perfectly encapsulates everything that Marvel is doing right.

So, there are no gatefold covers for me this week or extra-special, super fat 8 dollar comics either.  No shocking truths or mournful…mournings for us in the Marvel camp.

Instead, we are taking a look at Mark Waid and Walt Simonson’s The Incredible Hulk #6.  

As I stated earlier, This past week’s issue of Incredible Hulk demonstrates perfectly everything I love about Marvel.  A respect for the past, an eye toward the future, and focus on talent and not characters that seems to be more and more of a rarity over at the Dreaded Competition.

I’d like to first talk a little about this near miraculous combination of Mark Waid on scripts and Walt Simonson on art.  Now, calling Mark Waid “new talent” is anything but true.  But for the world of mainstream comics, Mark Waid as a super-star headliner is still a new phenomenon.  The guy is arguably the hottest thing in funny books right now.  He’s proving his worth on all sorts of books and doing about a hundred different things on said books.  Walt Simonson on the other hand is everything that is classic Marvel comics.  His style is unlike anything we have today…yet his influence has touched almost every modern super-hero artist in the industry.  It seems only natural to put these two on a book together.  The combination of snappy, modern writing and bombastic, detailed art makes Hulk seem like a perfect blast from the past while still appealing to modern movie going sensibilities.  The dynamic between these two is amazing.  The narrative story telling just in this one issue alone seems like something that was perfected over long years of working together.

The plot of IC #6 itself is exactly, in my mind, the point of Marvel Now.  We take classic characters and stories and filter them through a modern lens.  There is so much old-school earnestness behind Hulk portal jumping to the land of the frost giants and facing a Thor who does not recognize him, and yet with Mark Waid orchestrating these characters and this little square of the universe…it all feels new.  It takes something special to take a 51 year old character and make his exploits and adventures feel brand new without erasing what was special and cherished about the past.  How do you recognize where you’ve been without forgetting where you’re going?  In actuality, it turns out to be much simpler than it seems.  I can imagine the Hulk in this plot existing in almost any other time in Marvel history.  Yet, it has a touch, very subtle, special uniques that feels new.  That feels different.  That feels “now.”  That nowness, if you will, that certain feeling that this is relevant and special to you and I reading this issue in the month of April in the year 2013 is without question due to the melding of top industry talent from today and yesterday.  It’s Mark Waid writing modern comics and Walt Simonson draw the comforting, welcoming comics we all know and love.  

You want to see comics adapt to the modern era?  Evolve and stay alive?  This is it folks.  This is an open love the letter to the past…and a promise for the future.  This issue of Incredible Hulk is the first time that Marvel Now has really grabbed me by the hand and shown me what Marvel can do with the future of sequential story telling.  And guys…it is damn exciting.  

Stack this one issue against anything DC put out this week and I promise you the difference is glaringly obvious.  If I had to give an old veteran returning to comics or a young kid walking into the local comic shop for the first time one book…just one title…to convince them that comics were something special, something magical, it would be Incredible Hulk #6.  Can you say the same about anything DC published this week?

Now that you’ve heard from the both of us, it’s time to get the vote out! Comment on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and the main page to make your voice heard. The power is in your hands.

Until the next time,

Rn and MFT

Marvel VS DC Monday #1

As many a nerd can attest, the conflict and struggle about the superiority of either Marvel or DC has waged across the internet and comic book stores for generations. While this argument will never get solved, MoreFunTravis and I have decided to make an interesting wager. Since he’s a Marvel zombie and since I’m the classiest of DC fans, we have decided to compile our thoughts on Marvel and DC weekly. I will discuss the highlights of DC comics from the past week, while Travis will highlight Marvel. Within one post we will both try to convince you of one side or the other. It is then up to you the reader and fan to vote by commenting on Twitter, on this post, or on Facebook. So without further set up, let the great debate commence!

Ravingnerd here with my thoughts on why DC should be considered the top dog this week. Last week is normally the slowest of weeks for DC with only two real headlining titles (Swamp Thing and Animal Man). This week for DC was a shock on nearly all fronts as many comics were on top of their game. So while the first week of the month should be the hardest for DC to compete with, this week should be considered a hands down win for DC. Here are the reasons why.

1. Animal Man and Swamp Thing’s Rotworld conclusion did not disappoint. Snyder and Lemire are gentlemen and scholars.
2. Under Layman and Fabok, Detective Comics has become a force to be reckoned with. Do we really deserve two equally stellar bat solo books? Layman and Fabok seem to think so.
3. Green Arrow #17. It makes the entire run worth it as we see New 52 Ollie’s life torn to shreds. And honestly, who wasn’t happy seeing everything we hated about New 52 Ollie, burn, blow up, or die (or some combination of the three)?
4. Phantom Stranger had a great week. Not only did we get to see an epic clash between The Spectre and the Phantom Stranger, but The Question gets more time in the spot light. And to top it all off, we see God for the first time in the New 52…. and it probably isn’t what you expect.
5. Stormwatch was not only exciting, but it did three important things. First it introduced Zealot to the New 52, second the Projectionist has decided to join the forces of good, and third, Brother Eye/OMAC/Checkmate all get involved (more like controlled) by the renegade Engineer. If fans have been wanting Stormwatch to tie into DC proper more, this issue will blow your mind as Stormwatch is connected everywhere, and in a huge way.

Face front true believers! It’s MoreFunTravis here to refute everything my dear friend Ravingnerd has just argued and convince you instead that my beloved Marvel had the better week of the Big Two.

Now, I will be the first to admit that everything Ravingnerd has previously stated holds some truth.  DC had a fantastic week.  It’s hard to top the resurgence of Green Arrow and the conclusion of a story arc that has elevated two minor characters to star status.  However, Marvel managed to win my favor for another week and astound me for a few very specific reasons:

1.) Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers reached levels of absolute perfection this week.  The paradigms he is establishing in these early issues are going to make for spectacular Avengers comics for issues and issues to come.
2.) Until this week’s third issue, I had been all but repulsed by Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man.  This week however, finally won me over.  Slott wrote a wonderful Mary Jane and alongside Ryan Stegman’s perfect pencils, this team is finally crafting a Spider-man narrative that is compelling and original.  To win over this loyal Spidey fan is a feat worth recognition.
3.)  My final point for the case of Marvel’s domination in the last week of January is the continued perfection of one title:  All New X-Men.  Bendis’ take on the X-Men, both old and new, continues to capture the magic, the drama, and the uniqueness that makes the X-Men the greatest team in comics.  Relieving Stuart Immonen of art duties again this issue was the incredibly talented David Marquez and the switch on art only helped to maintain this book’s unique and clean look.  Much to the chagrin of my friend Ravingnerd here, I continue to describe this initial run on All New X-Men as “Claremontian” because it is just that:  the essence of all that was special and fun about those old Claremont X-Men runs.
Immediately upon finishing this issue I felt as if I had gone back and relieved those early, perfect experiences I had with the X-men.  In short, it brought me back into my Marvel U, and made forget all of the ups and downs Marvel has put the X-Men through in recent decades.  As good ol’ Stan would put it:  ‘Nuff said!

Alright! Now that both of us have gotten to present our cases, it is up to you to vote! You have until next week, so share with your friends and begin commenting away!

Until the next time, who will reign supreme?

Rn & MFT

Ravingnerd Reviews: Talon #2

Talon proved that it couldn’t quite meet expectation last month, making me less than excited for this issue. Despite this I was curious to see how it would perform this month as both Team 7 and Phantom Stranger faced a set back this month. Would Talon fit the same trend or take this chance to race ahead of the other two? Here’s what I liked:

1. The ending is surprisingly intriguing, making me want to read the next issue despite this issues poor start.
2. I enjoyed seeing the Court.

Rating before reading: 7
Rating after reading: 6

This comic loses more ground than even I had thought. The issue might have been salvaged had March been on art this issue, but that isn’t the case. While this issues artist isn’t bad, the issue is hurt by the switch, especially so early in the run. I also still don’t like Calvin’s ally, this issue only furthers my theories that they will have a falling out and that he may end up being a villain. Finally, the Court seems to be operating in full force, even though last issue stated they were still licking their wounds. And though I enjoyed the ending I am disturbed at the implication. It seems as if James Tynion just editorially mandated a loop hole in the Court of Owls plot. One that goes so far as to hurt Snyder’s run. While Snyder is behind this, the thought that the Court had unused Talon’s definitely hinders the conclusion to the original plot.

Until the next time,

Rn