Wednesday, October 01, 2008

FanBoyWonder & Kemosabe Invade DC Nation at Baltimore Comic-Con Part II

As we noted the other day, FanBoyWonder along with our best pal and all around Kemosabe enjoyed a fine time at the Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend.

Among events in which we partook was the DC Nation panel featuring Executive Editor Dan DiDio, along with Jimmy Palmiotti, DC’s uber writer Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, Kemosabe’s favorite writer James Robinson, Sean McKeever and DC Comics Story Editor Ian Sattler.

In the first part of our DC Nation invasion, we reported on and provided snarky commentary about DC’s upcoming plans for the Justice Society of America and Power Girl.

Here in Part 2, we feature…some more things from the panel that we found of interest. Let’s get it on.

Faces of Evil

Taking its cue/inspiration from the decently done but not-long remembered New Years Evil series of fifth-week one shots from a decade ago, DiDio announced in January that the villains of the DC Universe will take over the various DCU titles by telling the story from the bad guys’ point of view.

In addition there will be a series of one-shot specials also following along this villain-centric theme, including a Solomon Grundy special by Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins and one-time Grant Morrison JLA flavor of the month bad guy Prometheus, written by Sterling Gates.

Also look for a Kobra special designed to “established a new status quo” for the cult/terror organization of the DCU, as well as a Deathstroke The Terminator one-shot.

FanBoyWonder’s Take: Telling the story from villains’ point of view sounds very interesting. Marvel Comics tried something like it in the early 1990s with the Spider-Man villains in a mini-series the name of which we can’t quite remember but it failed in its execution.

We hope DC can do better and we’re onboard with the concept but given Team DC’s recent and decidedly mixed track record, we not going in with high expectations.

Justice League(s)

Dan DiDio noted that Justice League of America will serve as the lynchpin title for the re-introduction of the Milestone universe characters—first seen in the 1990s—back into the DC Universe.

Although their had been a previous crossover during the 90s, current JLA writer and one-time Milestone scribe Dwayne McDuffie will bring the two universes together again for the first time as the Shadow Cabinet will go head-to-head with JLA, while major Milestone universe characters Icon and Static will play significant roles in JLA and Teen Titans respectively.

Meanwhile, DC is launching a second Justice League title to spin out of the God-awful Final Crisis. Kemosabe’s favorite writer James Robinson (a heavyweight scribe to be sure) will be writing the book.

Robinson noted that among the roster of the new/second League will include Freddy Freeman, the former Captain Marvel Jr. and new Captain Marvel/Shazam (we’re still not sure what name they’ve settled on for the New Red Cheese) and Batwoman. The aforementioned Prometheus will be having a run-in with this new League.

FBW’s Take: Regarding JL of A, we’ve always respected former Justice League Unlimited Cartoon Network veteran Dwayne McDuffie. Yet we think he inherited a big steaming s&*t sandwich when he took over the mess of a title from the over-rated fanboy dilettante Brad Metzler.

Hobbled to start with, frequent and persistent editorial mandates distracted from whatever story Dwayne wanted to tell and the art by one-trick T&A pony Ed Benes all conspired to make this book unreadable—so we stopped reading.

With the inclusion of the Milestone characters, Dwayne may finally be getting the chance to tell the story he wants but our good will for this book is gone. We know there are Milestone fans out there—we sat behind one at Baltimore Con and he was positively gleeful at the Milestone news.

To him and to Dwayne, we wish you luck.

As far as the second Justice League book goes—other than a showcase for a VERY talented writer, we’re not sure there is a compelling need for two Justice League books.

Robinson didn’t help assuage our fears when he explained the premise—THIS JL book will feature a more proactive team—proactively striking at threats before they become….(wait for it)…a crisis instead of always reacting.

Haven’t we heard this song before? Let’s think back…this sounds a lot like Judd Winick’s Outsiders, who stole the premise from Justice League Elite. But going further back, remember the good old days of multiple Justice League teams—Extreme Justice and Justice League Task Force?

This isn’t just a bad idea, it’s an UNORIGINAL bad idea—how many times can you re-tread this tire before it blows out on the storytelling highway??

The only reason…. the ONLY REASON we haven’t dismissed this book out of hand is because of James Robinson’s street cred. The guy is a proven rainmaker but frankly, we wish he would go back to Justice Society of America.

Hey, that’s a great idea. If DC would only change the name of the book to “Justice Society” to run in tandem with Geoff Johns “Justice Society of America” then DC would not just have an instant convert but a Number One fan.

Green Lantern/Blackest Night

Following up from last year’s surprise success (a surprise only to DC management) Sinestro Corps War, this month (October) will feature the continuation of that arc in the War of Light starting Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns.

As we’ve seen there aren’t just emerald and yellow power rings but now there are a number of different colors with a different color coordinated “corps.” Red Lanterns, for example, are warriors of rage.

The other spectra of light are based on emotions—Orange Lanterns are greedy, including the head guy “Agent Orange” but there are also Blue Lanterns of love and Black Lanterns of death.

Peter Tomasi in Green Lantern Corps will be featuring more the Star Sapphire brigade before he and Johns tag team into the Blackest Night event where the dead rise in 2009.

FBW’s Take: We have to admire the imagination behind this to an extent but we’re wary that they are taking a good idea too far. But Johns has enough street cred so that we’ll go where he wants to take us.

However, what does it say about Final Crisis—not quite yet half over—that they are already talking up the next big event?

Superman/New Krypton

The basic premise of New Krypton is that the Bottle city of Kandor is enlarged and 100,000 Kryptonians released to “re-settle on Earth, juiced by our yellow sun and ready to make a home—despite those pesky “indigenous” creatures—Earthlings.

FBW’s Take: Despite the talent assembled for this story arc to play through Superman and Action Comics—it sticks in our craw because we resent being force fed a wholesale return to the Silver Age—at first drip by drip and now with a tidal wave.

FanBoyWonder has been a long fan of the John Byrne’s Superman post-CRISIS on Infinite Earths reboot The Man of Steel. For all of the continuity problems that resulted (not ALL of which Byrne’s fault), we liked the Man of Steel-era Superman (circa 1986 to about 2000) because he really WAS the Last Son of Krypton—the sole survivor.

What we hated about pre-CRISIS Superman was that more and more survivors of Krypton kept popping up—starting with Supergirl Kara Zor-El. Superman becomes less and less unique with each Kryptonian survivor.

The premise of New Krypton has been compared—none too favorably—to an episode of Lois and Clark the New Adventures of Superman in the 1990s.

Okay….here is what has ALWAYS bothered us about Superman’s basic premise: We can see up to a point where a strange visitor from another planet would or could be physically enhanced by a smaller, less advanced world’s environment.

Yet Superman has been “Super” all over the universe and at such an extreme god-like power level that it’s hard for us to swallow that a whole race of people instantly being bestowed with god-like powers uniformly at the same god-like level just because the sun changes color.

Not too long after Byrne left the Super books (in a huff…big surprise), Team Superman added to the Superman legend that Kryptonians were genetically bonded to their planet and to attempt to leave the confines of their world would be instantly fatal.

This plausibly explained why such an advanced civilization never developed real space-travel abilities.

Geoff Johns, the master of the plausible retrocon, really should look at some sort of explanation as to why Superman/Kal-El is just SO super under a yellow sun. Perhaps Kal and Kara Zor-El were born with the Krypton version of a meta-gene, making them something special on Earth or Krypton.

That’s a wee bit of ranting we know but we had wanted to get that out.

We have to admit that we DO find ourselves curious about the New Krypton story line. We might just give this a chance—our distaste for the Silver Age revival not withstanding.

We had not intended our DC Nation posting to be three parts but we’ve got more to say yet we’re nearly at our stop as we write this on the commuter train.

Tune in tomorrow (or just as soon as we can) and we’ll wrap up our trip through DC Nation with some Q&A snarkyness.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Life—Find Your Happy Place

At long last a new episode of Life on NBC aired. Despite having seen a preview online, it was good to see it on the TV from the comfort of the couch.

FanBoyWonder is doing this review from the shotgun formation so here are our quickie impressions:

The Upshot from NBC: In the season two premiere, detectives Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) and Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) are on the hunt for a serial killer when three numbered trunks containing suffocated bodies are found scattered across Los Angeles. With their new boss New York transfer Captain Kevin Tidwell (Donal Logue) pressuring them to get answers, Crews and Reese race to find a connection between the murders before the killer strikes again. Meanwhile, Ted (Adam Arkin) and Crews attempt to track down the daughter, the lone survivor, of the family Crews was wrongly convicted of killing. Brent Sexton also stars.

This was a non-pilot pilot as it was very much accessible for newcomers but those fans who have been there from the start—like FanBoyWonder—got something out of it too.

The serial killer A-plot was well done as it held a surprise that was hidden in plain sight. We sort of knew the “Lee-Harvey” type at the box store was the killer but his motivations and the seriousness of his bent-ness still came as a shock.

Crews and Reese have grown into a comfortable groove together—they respect each other but are still wary of each other—at least Reese is wary of Crews….Charlie doesn’t give away much for all of his Zen platitudes even as he at times goes out of his way to annoy her with said platitudes.

It was interesting to see Kyle Hollis (Titus Welliver) again…in a prison jumpsuit no less—making up for Charlie’s time lost in prison. Jack Reese has gotten to Kyle and prompting him to deny ever knowing Jack, much less killing for him.

In that faux-documentary that they do each week, Kyle drops a seed of doubt with viewers noting that if they locked Charlie up, he must have done something. Hmmmm.

We’re not crazy about the new boss played by Donal Logue but it’s early yet even as we really miss Robin Weigart. Weigart’s Lt. Davis was said to have been demoted (perhaps due to Crews being allowed to bring Hollis to justice and clear his name????) so we are looking forward to seeing that aspect of the story play on.

Yet we can’t help but think that they bumped out a strong woman in favor of a slacker white guy.

Speaking of strong women, Reese has let her hair down this season but is still a hard ass, even as she is overtly less hostile—the aforementioned grudging respect developed between her and Crews.

As I noted in my reply to comments to my previous Life posting, FBW is very much a Reese fan. Damien Lewis is the star of the show yes but his character benefits with a strong counterweight, which comes ironically in the form of the petite Sarah Shahi.

Perhaps having Brianna the Girl Wonder around makes us that much more sensitive regarding female role models. Reese, if not positive model, is at least an example of a strong/tough woman—despite her demons.

What makes Shahi so good as Reese is that the actress is a stunningly beautiful woman (something quite rare in Hollywood I’m sure :) but by force of sheer will and acting the viewer totally buys her as a buttoned down, straight laced cop….instead of her small stature being a minus, it’s a plus. Reese is one tough broad.

After some 10 months of nary a word about Life from the Network, we’re pleased they are giving it some push with four episodes in 2 weeks. Catch the next episode this Friday at 10 p.m., followed by Monday again at 10 p.m. after Heroes and back to its permanent Friday, 10 p.m. slot on Oct. 10.

It really is a wonderful “Life”—don’t believe us—see for yourself

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baltimore Comic-Con, DC Nation Panel and FanBoyWonder’s ‘Translations’

Following up on our overview of FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe’s invasion of Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend, we offer our impressions of the DC Nation panel that we attended on Saturday.

As it turns out, FBW and Kemosabe joined the panel already in progress—following the better part of an hour in the ticket line but the upside of that was that we missed all of the time killing introductions and the likely tedious blather from DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio about how Final Crisis really doesn’t suck(but it really, REALLY does).

Acting as part emcee and part board room chair with a dash of roastmaster thrown in DiDio was flanked by on the panel by (in no particular order) Jimmy Palmiotti, DC’s uber writer Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, Kemosabe’s favorite writer James Robinson, Sean McKeever and DC Comics Story Editor Ian Sattler.

We won’t report the 90 minute panel verbatim—you want a stenographer try newsarama or Comic Book Resources—but we’re here to weigh-in on the news that interested us and to offer our reaction and commentary to said news.

The format of the panel had DiDio at the podium with the creators seated at the adjacent table and a slide show of art from various DC Comics titles on screen. Something the professional newsman in us found surprising and a bit disappointing was that Team DC had no real talking points to speak of.

Some creators were better than others but it seemed obvious (to us at least) that there was no “script” in that when their book came up for discussion—some creators struggled to offer a clear, concise explanation of the book’s premise and/or the upcoming story arc.

Geoff Johns was quite adept at providing an “upshot” while other creators struggled. This came as a surprise as Baltimore certainly isn’t the first convention these guys have done—this should be boiler plate by now. Back to media training class fellas.

One other thing that stuck in our craw before we get to the nitty gritty—following a audience member’s near gushing praise of Trinity (we don’t agree but it’s a free country and such), DiDio brought the guy up to sit on the panel, where the super-fan happily obliged by offering drank-the-kool-aid positive commentary of the DCU line up.

The whole thing made us uncomfortable because it seemed they were mocking this poor guy who had done no wrong—it’s a fine line of being part of the joke and you being the joke.

If it were us, we’re pretty sure we would have said “thanks but no thanks” if such an offer were made to us (unlikely as it is given the slight ball-busting we did when we had our turn at Q&A)—UNLESS we were offered a seat between the Secret Six’s Gail Simone and Nicola Scott…..or perhaps Huntress Year One writer Ivory Madison and upcoming Power Girl artist Amanda Connor (“Hubba-Hubba”:)

Also one more observation before we get to the pain—we’ve already written about how cool Geoff Johns was with us during autograph time but sitting in the audience listening to Johns do a LOT of the talking about DC future projects—many of which he is writing or co-writing—it occurred to us that if Geoff Johns (God forbid) was hit by a bus tomorrow, the 40 percent of DC’s current stable of books would vanish with him.

Two words Dan DiDio—“Deeper Bench.”

Ok…let’s get it on.

Justice Society of America

Geoff Johns noted that “Thy Kingdom Come” is wrapping up and Black Adam will be returning to the pages of the JSA starting with Issue 23. Adam discovers his wife Isis is indeed alive and they take over the Rock of Eternity together prompting the Justice Society to try to stop them.

During the Question and Answer (Q&A) session, Johns also noted that Adam Smasher will be returning to the JSA but he wouldn’t elaborate.

FanBoyWonder’s take: We’re disappointed that Johns mentioned NOTHING about the Earth-2 story line introduced in Justice Society Annual #1 this summer, leading us to believe this is a one-off story that doesn’t seem to carry any creative weight down the road.

That’s a disappointment considering that storyline has got us jazzed after a year or more of coasting/stalling with the Kingdom Come sequel in JSA. Johns obviously loves these characters and this book but it seems obvious that he can’t give them his full attention.

Power Girl

The upcoming new Power Girl series will seek to pick up ball from what Geoff Johns and artist Amanda Connor started during their Power Girl story arc in JSA Classified (#1-3) just prior to Infinite Crisis at least in the light-hearted theme.

Palmiotti says the book is deliberately designed to be accessible to newcomers and to long-time fans alike

Meanwhile, Palmiotti and Connor will finally be rolling out their Terra mini-series that they first discussed with us (and a room full of other fans) back at Pittsburgh Con in 2006. In an amazing coincidence given the same creative teams, Power Girl (as well Geo Force) will guest star in Terra.

FBW’s Take: We think Power Girl is long over due for a series of her own. We like Palmiotti and Connor but we are also a bit wary….Palmiotti has a …mixed record creatively and Connor isn’t the quickest artist around and now with two books….but they clearly have a passion for the project so we are hopeful and look forward to Power Girl.

We’ll wrap up our orbit of DC Nation in our upcoming Part 2. Stay Tuned.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

FanBoyWonder, Kemosabe and the Baltimore Comic-Con

FanBoyWonder and our best pal and all around Kemosabe John Micek braved torrential downpours, traffic accidents and sleep deprivation on Saturday (not unlike the sleep deprivation we’re feeling now at the end of the night following a full day of family stuff) as we made our way down to Charm City for the 2008 Baltimore Comic-Con.

While we both had a fine time, we both found the convention to be a mixed bag—there were a LOT of carbon-based life forms crowded together in a space that didn’t seem to be fully adequate for the event.

FBW and Kemosabe stood in line for better part of an hour starting outside and slowly making our way to the box office—three tiny ticket windows, only two of which were seemed to be open at any one time.

Once we (finally) made it in, we scooted up two floors to join the DC Nation panel just a few minutes in progress (more on that in another post) then after 90 minutes we made our way to the show floor and directly to the mini-food court. $9 later we were standing and stuffing our face with a turkey wrap and an ice tea—proof positive as to how tough it is to do comic con on a budget.

Following lunch, we started to take a lap around the floor to scout out the show but it became increasingly tough just to move about given the sea of humanity—a few in the crowd were pushing baby/kid strollers but more annoying where those “Simpsons Comic Book Guy”-types who were dragging rolling suitcases behind them, obvlious to all around them. Their bags filled no doubt with books and other merchandise to be signed and posted immediately on E-Bay.

Along the way we spotted not as many folks in costume as we would have figured—a lot of Star Wars Jedi-types (yet not a single “Slave Leia”), a guy in full Superman get up, a pair of girls about Brianna the Girl Wonder’s age dressed as Supergirl and Batgirl respectively there with their FanDad and two Spider-Men traveling in tandem—one red and blue costume, the other movie black costume.

As soon as we had our bearings, FanBoyWonder quickly made a bee-line (to the extent that it was possible) to the ComicMix booth to acquire our Holy Grail and the main reason for our going to the Con—the limited-edition trade paper back of Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden by the great Mike Grell.

Unfortunately, Mr. Grell couldn’t make the show as originally planned but ComicMix’s Martha Thomasas WAS there. After we purchased our copy of Sable she gave a bit of the lowdown on Mr. Grell’s next project (again, more on that later). Despite being very busy, Martha gave us some of her time and we were most grateful—Thanks Martha.

The highlight of the show was seeing creators James Robinson and Geoff Johns. Kemosabe was particularly anxious to meet Mr. Robinson. After some two hours in line—passing the time with the Fanguys in back of us counting the many ways in which Final Crisis sucks—we made to signing table.

Kemosabe got some quality chat time with Mr. Robinson and he signed Kemosabe’s Starman promo-poster from 1994—the very same poster that used to hang in the kitchen the swank FBW/Kemosabe bachelor pad back in the day.

Meanwhile, FBW got just a moment with Geoff Johns as he signed our hard copy edition of JLA/JSA Virtue and Vice. We made our quick pitch to Mr. Johns about giving some closure to Hector Hall, who in JSA just before Infinite Crisis was hastily written out—he gave a non-answer answer but he was gracious about it.

In fact, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Johns were extraordinarily gracious given that we were just 4 people from the end of the line and they had been on panels or signing all day long with more to go. Many thanks gentlemen.

There was one unfortunate incident that marred our full enjoyment of the Con. After FBW was done, it was Kemosabe’s turn for a few moments with Geoff Johns.

As Mr. Johns was signing Kemosabe’s rare JSA promo poster—a poster Mr. Johns hasn’t seen in a while and was engaging our pal in an animated friendly chat even as Kemosabe, camera phone in hand was readying a picture of Johns signing his poster, someone barged in, to “say hello” to Mr. Johns, blocking Kemosabe’s camera shot and interrupting him mid-sentence.

When Kemosabe politely noted that said person had spoiled his picture, this person was not only not contrite but said person was quite snooty in their slight of Kemosabe.

This person was a correspondent for Decorum will keep us from naming names but we had been familiar with this person's work and for the most part had found their writing to be.... satisfactory—a talented amateur.

Keep in mind both FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe are both professional newsmen—have been for some 15 years each—so we know, WE KNOW what it’s like to gather news and cover events, especially at trade shows.

We can understand a correspondent (we will NOT call this person a “reporter”…that designation is for the professionals) seeks to touch base with trade show “talent,” to schmooze and to try to make time for an interview.

We get that and we KNOW it’s not easy…especially under a hectic deadline schedule. WE GET IT!

But there is a right way and a wrong way to get the job done. The right way does NOT involve one throwing around attitude like a bat-a-rang.
The thing is, this Newsarama person didn’t see our pal Kemosabe another newsgather, all they saw was a pesky fan “in the way.” Maybe it was just a bad moment of otherwise decent person but reputations can be made and broken in just a moment…so can impressions.

So where are we going with this. Simple—You disrespected my friend hack… BLEEP YOU SUNSHINE!

That ugly little event aside, the dynamic duo of FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe enjoyed themselves in Charm City and we didn’t even have to spend all of our money.

Yet next year, we think we will revisit Pittsburgh Comic-Con, with more time, more money and a plan.

Meanwhile, look for more of FanBoyWonder’s dispatches from Baltimore Comic-Con tomorrow and as the week goes on.

FBW Editor’s Note: When not playing the part of FanBoyWonder’s Kemosabe or when not playing with two bands -- Milkshake Jones and Fink’s Constant, -- John L. Micek covers Pennsylvania politics for a major Keystone State newspaper—read his political blog, Capitol Ideas, at
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