Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Comically Speaking With Kemosabe

FanBoyWonder is once again glad to share some blog space with our best pal and all around Kemosabe John Micek as he shares his thoughts on the recently released Teen Titans: The Lost Annual, as well as on other significant happenings throughout the DC Universe.

By way of background regarding the Teen Titans: The Lost Annual—here’s the upshot from DC Comics: Don't miss the Teen Titans Lost Annual, featuring the original Teen Titans: Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Aqualad! Classic Teen Titans writer Bob Haney sends the Titans into space to rescue President John F. Kennedy in this story illustrated by Jay Stephens & Mike Allred! Meet new alien races, witness a startling betrayal, and more! It's a secret space adventure that couldn't be told...'til now!

Take it away Kemosabe.


Have you read Teen Titans: The Lost Annual yet? If you haven't you should.

It's a retro-kitsch throwback that finds that original Titans squad saving John F. Kennedy from alien abductors. It was one of the best reads I've had in ages.

Why? Because it didn't take itself too seriously. The characters were treated with respect, and that infectious Silver Age sense of fun prevailed. You could have easily pictured this book coming out of [former long time DC Comics Editor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Schwartz] Julie Schwartz's idea factory.

There's a great twist of a surprise ending, and I won't ruin it for you if you haven't read it yet. Suffice to say, I was a little misty-eyed when I got to the last page as I remembered how much I used to care about comics and why I cared about them so much.

Meanwhile, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone wrapped up their 12-issue run on The Spirit by reinterpreting one of Will Eisner's classic tales form the 1940s. Their run on the Spirit had the feeling and look of an old pulp adventure, and they breathed new life into a character that could have easily been moribund.

Bone's art struck the right balance between cartoony and realistic, making Denny Blake into a believable hero and his Midway City into a believable place. He drew women with the curves of Varga girls, but never allowed them to become the pin-up cheesecake offered up by the rest of the DCU.

Outside of Justice Society of America (JSA), this is one of the best books DC has going right now. And I'm confident that it's in good hands when Sergio Aragones takes over with #13.

In the meantime, Batman is fighting a newly, newly, newly, newly resurrected Ra's-al'-Ghul in the pages of the flagship Bat-book and the pages of Detective Comics, and I. Just. Don't. Care.

The art is substandard. The plot makes absolutely no sense. Why do I care that Ra's is alive again? What role did he play in Batman's life other than to harass and harangue him with those cheesy, "Detective ..." taunts again?
[Ra’s daughter and the Dark Knight’s on-again/off-again love interest] Talia's an interesting character, but they had their moment and their time has passed.

Yep ... Batman has a kid and maybe there's an heir-apparent to the cowl running around the DCU. But he'll have to fight Nightwing and Robin to get it. Why do I care? I have no idea.

Paul Dini wrapped things up nicely in Detective, as Ra's was sent packing off to Arkham Asylum. But, c'mon ... do any of us expect him to stay there?

And there's the difference between the mainline DCU books and the fringy ones like the Spirit. Cooke gets the time to write stories that can stand by themselves as rip-roaring yarns even as they establish a new continuity for the character.

Meanwhile, DC's flagship heroes are slaves to the editorial direction being handed down by [DC Comic’s Executive Editor] Dan DiDio and the rest of the braintrust.

It's all in service to Ultimate/Final/No Effing Kidding/We're Serious This Time/Or We Are Until the Next Time We Need to Do a Reboot/Crisis. And I'm left not caring about characters I once felt passionately about.

Meanwhile, I have no idea how I'm going to break my 2-year-old daughter into the comics trade. She can recognize the Neal Adams-vintage Batman on the side of the 35-year-old drinking mug that I've handed down to her. But there's no way I'm reading her the next issue of Detective Comics. It'd scare her to death, assuming she could ever understand it.

I guess I'll have to start with something from the Johnny DC line, but I'm not sure I like it. The overly cartoony art annoys me. I still treasure the memories of reading 1970s vintage Batman comics with my Dad. But I could never do that with my daughter now. The books and the stories just aren't the same anymore.

That brings me back to the new Teen Titans Lost Annual. We need more stories like that. We need that seemingly vanished enthusiasm and innocence in our comic books. They're the kind of stories that lured me into comics, and they're the kind of stories that DC needs to tell more often if they want to lure in younger readers.

Remember, there's a reason they call them "heroes." It's something we're supposed to want to aspire to on our own. I keep waiting for the comics I read now to inspire that same kind of longing in me—JLM.


FBW editor’s note: When not playing the part of FanBoyWonder’s Kemosabe or when not playing with his band Milkshake Jones www.myspace.com/milkshakejones, John L. Micek covers Pennsylvania politics for a major Keystone State newspaper—read his political blog Capitol Ideas http://blogs.mcall.com/capitol_ideas.


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