Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DC’s ‘Final Crisis’ or The Last Straw?????

Ok ok… we know that we only just announced that we were taking a brief hiatus from our blog and from our comic book bloviating—but we nearly fell out of our chair when we saw the image (see above) that DC Comics has released via

Our very first thought that came to mind was, “Egad, they just couldn’t leave well enough alone could they?”

“Heroes Die. Legends Live Forever” All very true, but great stories are born and then marketed, not market first and manufacture the plot later. Coming in May 2008, just as Countdown finishes counting down. How convenient.

DC should really call it Crisis III: The Apology. Perhaps they would be more honest in calling it “The Hail Mary Pass” but there’s no way to fit “Crisis” in there.

This just smells of desperation on the part the powers that be at DC, whom have not been able to do anything right since that clowns in a Volkswagen production that ended up being called Infinite Crisis.

In her own blog, Occasional Superheroine has her own theory as to DC’s surprise announcement

The upshot of her theory is that she thinks this may be an attempt by DC to restart the clock (again) on the whole DC Universe and related continuity.

I think DC will, for "Final Crisis," do some variation on "ultimizing"/rebooting/de-aging their characters. For the core characters, you will still have Bruce Wayne as Batman, Clark Kent as Superman, etc. But they will start at square one. "Streamlined." No characters appearing older than 25-30. No marriages, no steady girlfriends. So Superman is a free agent, romance-wise. You could even see the comics restarted at #1. For the more secondary characters, you choose the version that has been most popular. GL = Hal Jordan, Flash = Wally West, etc.

"What would such an "ultimizing" accomplish?It would make it easier for their characters to blend in with what is being done with the movies & TV shows. You will get another spike in sales with all the reboots & #1s. Sure, fanboys & girls will complain at first. But you explain it away as a decision based on a "love & respect" for the characters -- to get at the "heart" of who they are really about.You rewrite a lot of bulls**t.”

OC used to work deep within the bowels of the DC mothership so her inside insight, as well as her smart blog commentary carry a lot of weight with us.

A total, top-to-bottom continuity re-boot is what DC SHOULD have done immediately after the final issue of CRISIS on Infinite Earths in early 1986. But in their defense at the time, everything about the original CRISIS was unprecedented and they simply were not prepared for how big it became.

Yet more than 20 years and a totally failed Crisis sequel later, a total wiping and re-boot of the continuity hard drive is something that perhaps should not be dismissed out of hand. It’s just that cynical old FanBoyWonder has absolutely NO FAITH in current DC management NOT to frak it all up.

Our Spidey Sense tells us that this out of nowhere Final Crisis tease is a seat of the pants operation by DC. Occasional Superheroine would seem to hold the same opinion.

“I think yesterday's "Final Crisis" teaser image was something hastily put together in response to "Countdown's" increasingly poor sales & in lieu of the San Diego Comic Con. I think if DC has a conception of "Final Crisis" at all, it is in its most youthful stages.

"And I think fan response to the image -- how they interpret it, what they like or dislike about it -- will have a definite impact on what direction that particular event is taken. For all we know, tossing such images online without comment could be the company's way of conducting "snap" marketing research.

And to those who will counter with "DC already sort of rebooted half these characters 2 or 3 years ago! They wouldn't have the balls to pull a stunt like this!" -- I think they would.”

Balls perhaps, but greatness requires heart. Can anyone tell us when’s the last time they really felt heart come from a DC story?

Of course, that’s just our opinion. We could be wrong. We’re going back on hiatus….see you in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FBW Takes Summer Vacation While Green Arrow Year One Hits the Bull’s-eye

Hello faithful readers,

That is if we have any readers left following our long delay between postings. Unfortunately, this is going to be our last post for a couple weeks.

Things have been hectic at FanBoyWonder’s day job plus there have been some urgent personal matters that require our attention at home, but mostly it’s just a matter of creativity or lack thereof lately.

One of the perils of being a professional writer who also writes recreationally is that when the creative well goes dry, this blog begins to feel like work or a second job instead of the outlet for our love of comic book storytelling that we intended it to be.

So to ensure that we don’t lose that loving feeling, FanBoyWonder has gone fishing for a couple weeks while we recharge and take care of other business.

As an aside, for those who are wondering and those who have asked about Brianna The Girl Wonder, she is well. FBW and Mrs. FBW talk to her by telephone at least once a week and despite the fact that she misses us nearly as much as we miss her, she’s doing all right living with her mother, her new “dad” and new grandmother. We hope to see her again soon.

Meanwhile, here are FanBoyWonder’s picks for the week of July 11. See you again in a couple of weeks.

Green Arrow #1 (of 6)

The Upshot from DC Comics: The incredible creative team of writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock rejoin to tell the definitive origin of the Emerald Archer! Oliver Queen is a frivolous playboy with little care for anyone or anything — apparently even himself. But when he's double-crossed and marooned on a desert island he finds that he does care about something... justice!

We had not planned at all to pick up this mini-series—for a number of reasons. First, FanBoyWonder’s wallet asked us if it was REALLY worth it? But besides that we had dropped collecting Judd Winick’s Green Arrow following One Year Later but we had been growing steadily dissatisfied with Winick’s GA long before that.

However to be fair, nobody in our mind has written the Green Arrow as well since Mike Grell’s The Longbow Hunters and his subsequent 75 issue run on the Green Arrow series of the 1980s and ‘90s.

But score one for the trade press. We had read an interview that writer Andy Diggle gave to in which he explained his take on the Green Arrow Year One mini-series.

Our takeaway from the interview was that Diggle wasn’t going to so much attempt to reinvent Oliver Queen’s origin as Green Arrow (as is the fashion these days) but rather to streamline the various and sundry “secret origins” and fill in the many blanks and unanswered questions. The way it should be done.

Chronologically speaking, the Green Arrow character reaches all the way back to the Golden Age and is a contemporary of the Justice Society but he’s considered a Silver Age character because he really didn’t get noticed until his time with the early Justice League.

GA really didn’t become the Green Arrow we know today until Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neil updated GA’s costume and personality—more like GAVE him a personality as they transformed him from a Batman with a bow-and-arrow (and sidekick) clone into the ultra-lefty fight for the little guy against the “fat cats” know it all pain in the arse that you find in most campus faculty lounges (the exception being that Ollie actually DOES something).

In GA Year One, we can see Diggle deftly incorporate the various aspects of the different GA origins while at the same time making the story his own. Diggle kept in Mike Grell’s beat about Ollie being tutored by real life “World’s Greatest Archer” Howard Hill as a kid (since Hill died in 1975 this is a bit of a stretch in the timeline for a young Ollie but we’ll let it slide). The obvious respectful gesture to Grell has raised our stock of Diggle.

Diggle gives us a rare glimpse of a pre-Green Arrow Oliver Queen. Think a male Paris Hilton. This is the goofy, playboy waste of space character that Bruce Wayne PRETENDS to be when he wears his public mask. We wish Diggle had given us more of this Ollie Queen before getting him on the boat to send him to the deserted island where Ollie goes Cast-Away.

Yet even before Ollie goes overboard, we see something of the man that he is to become. He’s got some iron not cowering when his “friend” betrays him and puts a gun to his face. He fights even as he’s told “You’re already dead inside. You just don’t know it.”

A word about the art by Jock. Our only other encounter with this artist was during Bruce Jones’ disastrous run on Nightwing (Not a glowing recommendation) but he won us over. His style may not be our natural cup of tea but for this story, it works like a charm.

Diggle’s Newsarama interview intrigued us enough to take a look at the first issue on the comic book store shelf. Diggle’s story and Jock’s Art compelled us on the spot to pick it up and buy it. We can’t remember the last time we did that. Good start fellas, keep it up.

Green Lantern #21

The Upshot from DC Comics: The first chapter of "Sinestro Corps" explodes! Sinestro's army of fear has gathered: Arkillo! Karu-Sil! The Cyborg-Superman! And hundreds more of the most terrifying villains the universe has ever seen! Hal Jordan has overcome great fear throughout his life, but what fear still lingers inside him? Parallax knows, and Hal's about to be reminded as he leads Earth's Green Lanterns on a life-or-death rescue mission in the middle of this war. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Universe find dissent within their ranks as a bizarre prophecy is fulfilled. The secrets of the Green Lantern Corps and its power are about to be revealed!

GL writer Geoff Johns follows his grand slam home run in the Sinestro Corps special of two weeks ago with an impressively put together second chapter. The book’s art team of Ivan Reis and Oclar Albert ably match the visual quality of Ethan Van Sciver in Sinestro Corps.

Johns really plays to this strengths here by giving the reader a coherent narrative from Hal Jordan’s point of view and a great plot summary in the first three pages that not only brings new readers up to speed but for old timers like us, it lets us know what part of Green Lantern history Johns has tweaked, getting us all on the same page editorially.

Johns is well on his way to breathing new life into this title after coasting for far too long. That sound you hear is the growing buzz around Green Lantern.

Justice Society of America #7

The Upshot from DC Comics: Meet the newest member of the Justice Society of America: Citizen Steel! What happens when Nathan Heywood, the grandson of Commander Steel, awakens to find himself completely and utterly alone in a way he never thought possible? Changed into something far more bizarre than Dr. Mid-Nite could ever imagine? Plus, the secrets of 52 begin to make themselves known in the world of the Justice Society!

While we really enjoyed the character of Commander Steel back in the days of Roy Thomas’ All Star Squadron and while we very much appreciate writer Geoff Johns respect and near reverence for the history of the JSA and the Golden Age in general, we really weren’t sure we saw the need for another descendent of the original “indestructible man.”

Steel’s creator Gerry Conway attempted to bring his character back in a new form during Justice League Detroit days of the mid-1980s with the JLA’s Steel the grandson of the original, complete with cybernetic skeleton just like grandpa but it just didn’t work.

In JLD, the original Commander Steel Hank Haywood had aged into a crippled and manipulative industrial tycoon who bore little resemblance to his World War II character, while his grandson Steel II was little more than your angry hotheaded strongman. It was no big loss when he was killed off.

Now “Citizen Steel” Nate Haywood has been saddled with the family tradition and powers he can barely control. We enjoyed Citizen Steel’s introduction despite the story’s numerous rough patches.

But we will say again just how much we detest Johns use of neo-Nazis as the bad guys this issue. Geoff for the love of God, NO MORE NAZIS!!!!

Countdown #42

The Upshot from DC Comics: This year-long weekly series featuring a cast of hundreds kicks into high gear in its third month! Learn more about the search for Ray Palmer! Travel into the Nanoverse! All this plus appearances by the Suicide Squad, the Penguin and the Atom!

Well scripter Sean McKeever did a decent job of carrying head writer Paul Dini’s plot and there was a decent balance of the different stories at play—so long as you give up any expectation that a single issue of Countdown will have anything resembling a self-contained story instead of the silent but perpetual “to be continued” throughout the book.

We could have lived with the story a little better had we not disliked the art so much. Penciler Carlos Magno’s style is not our cup of tea but we’ve seen better from him. We don’t know if it was because he had two inkers—Mark McKenna and Jay Leisten or was following the breakdowns of Keith Giffen or if he was just plain rushed…but it LOOKS rushed.

Better art (read clearer visuals) could have made this incoherent story easier to follow.

But what we hate most of all is what we’ve feared from the beginning since we saw the coming of “Dark Mary.” As Mary Marvel is corrupted by the dark side, it’s open season for the artistic cheesecake shots coupled with bad dialogue that makes Mary sound like a 1930s B-movies gangster.

It’s times like this that makes us sometimes wish that Fawcett rather than DC won the Superman vs. Captain Marvel copyright infringement lawsuit.

Amazing Spider-Girl #10

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: “CARNAGE!” Part 2 of 4 Caught in a war between Maria Hill and the Contessa Valentina Allegro De Fountaine, Spider-Girl must also battle the reborn Carnage who is targeting the students and facility of Midtown High as well as the Parker family! Guest-starring: Kaine and Darkdevil!

Well he’s back by popular demand but not by our demand. Carnage and the overuse there of was one of the big reasons why we stopped reading Spider-Man in the 90s. Yet it was inevitable that an old enemy of a now retired Spider-Man would come looking for Peter Parker.

If for nothing else, we look forward to seeing the one-time hero now supporting player get rescued by his daughter. Stay tuned.

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