Monday, February 22, 2016

Reading Comics #180 "A Brief Check-in"

I think I can, I think I can...

So I went back to Hampton, VA's friendly Heroes & Villains comic book shop last week.  It was my first visit this year.  I was sorely tempted to buy the deluxe copy of DKIII #2 available, but I didn't.  I've been keeping tabs on what's going on in comics since I wrapped up my most recent ongoing readership experience last fall.  Marvel's preparing an official Civil War II (I contend readers will find a perfectly good follow-up in the Secret Wars spin-off), while DC is still in the midst of unveiling its latest brand revision under the Rebirth banner (which includes bringing Action Comics back to its original numbering in time to let the series reach #1,000 without looking like another cheap publicity stunt).  This is a period where I will be happy, as a reader, to begin reading in the trades.  Yes, it finally happened.  Although obviously I'll have to keep informed to know what's worth reading in the trades...

So every now and then, I have to check back in!  So, here's what I read.  Mostly, it was checking in with previous favorites or things I was merely curious about.  Without further adieu:

Captain America: White #5 (Marvel)
The final issue in the latest Loeb/Sale collaboration left me wishing there was more than simply Cap pining for the lost Bucky, but the Loeb/Sale Marvel titles have all been written in some way under that model.  It's a reminder, at the very least, that there was a considerable period in Cap's history where he truly did believe Bucky was gone forever.  So this is a useful testament all the same.  At some point I will read the complete story.

Earth 2: Society #7-8 (DC)
The first issue is Daniel H. Wilson's last on the series.  Honestly, I think fans didn't care for his run because they're still unaware that Wilson is technically a big deal.  His breakthrough novel, Robopocalypse, was optioned instantly by Spielberg (whether it's been in development heck because of Spielberg's association with the Transformers movies I can only speculate), and has subsequently lost the luster of, say, The Martian, which obviously became a very successful movie in the meantime.  I've argued his Earth 2's merits previously, and Society's in particular.  It's a fascinating concept, but it's bound to irritate traditionalists, especially ones who saw Earth 2 begin under the auspices of the far better established James Robinson.  However, Wilson's day is now done.  The second issue is the first under Dan Abnett's tenure.  Abnett is best known in his collaborations with Andy Lanning, but as a solo act I previously found his Conspiracy scintillating.  His opening pages with Hawkgirl, and then concluding ones where Hawkgirl meets Fury, are some of the things that affirm what a great idea Earth 2 and Society remain.  So that was all good to experience.

Huck #4 (Image)
I belong to the Millarworld message board community these days.  This is the first issue of Huck I've caught.  To me, it's clearly a Superman analogy, if based on nothing but the evidence in this issue.  But no less an authority than Mark Millar himself insists otherwise, that it's actually a Captain America metaphor.  The empirical evidence certainly disagrees further.  Maybe Millar is more sarcastic than I previously knew...

Omega Men #7-8 (DC)
This is me literally picking up where I left off.  These issues bring Kyle Rayner forcibly into the team's plans, by showing him what happened to Voorl, why they recruited him in the first place.  It also features a typically tragic origin for another member, Doc, who was originally programmed to enact the Voorl tragedy itself.  That's the kind of writing from Tom King that has made me a bona fide believer.

Robin: Son of Batman #9 (DC)
Patrick Gleason's final issue as writer/artist returns the series full-circle to its Batman & Robin origins, having Damian realize that now he's the one that's been left behind, just Batman was before him.  It's depth that was probably unexpected and unwanted by readers who just wanted to see Robin being a smart aleck, as is still what most fans know about him.  Even though I missed a few issues, I'm glad to see that Gleason also wrapped up his Maya arc in a satisfactory manner.  I don't know if there ended up being a Goliath origin story somewhere in there, but this is a series I will be proud to add to my trade collection, alongside its predecessor, as one of the great experiences I've had in comics.

Superman #45 (DC)
The most recent new issue that the shop had was also the next issue after the last one I'd previously read, which was pretty neat.  Readers apparently took poorly to Gene Luen Yang's run, but I found it fascinating.  This issue began the Mythbrawl arc, sort of the traditional underground fighting trope mixed with Neil Gaiman's ideas from American Gods.  Which, needless to say, I found fascinating.  To have Superman included in such an idea is novel, and takes in the concept to a greater scope than most writers often consider.  Too often he's dismissed by fans as being too godlike in his abilities.  (Never mind that the New Gods are hardly ever presented as godlike at all!)  Here's an example of taking that concept to its next logical step.  Cheers, Yang.  Bonus points for Howard Porter on art!

Telos #3 (DC)
Jeff King's Convergence spin-off was quickly dismissed as roundly pointless by fans, but I find it to be a continuation of DC's interest in expanding its space mythology, which is often relegated to the Legion of Super-Heroes, Adam Strange, and Green Lantern.  Along with Omega Men, I think Telos does a good job of filling that gap, not only in further expanding the Brainiac narrative, but by including the New 52 versions of Captain Carrot and Captain Comet (the latter of which last seen in Grant Morrison's Action Comics).  I think Telos as a new character fails for the same reason Bloodwynd failed in the '90s, because his origins are deliberately cloaked in mystery.  Fans don't tend to like that.  They like the instantly iconic.  It worked with Wolverine mostly because fans didn't even realize or care that Wolverine appeared without origins.  He was just cool, and was different enough from the rest of the Marvel landscape (he debuted in the pages of a Hulk comic, remember, not X-Men) that he stood out without needing everything spelled out immediately.  It doesn't stop me from liking characters like Telos and Bloodwynd, but then, I'm a crazy person who actually took Mark Millar's sarcasm seriously at first...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reading Comics 179 "Flash Appreciation Day"

As established in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance" (and borrowing heavily from the comics, which have long celebrated the Scarlet Speedster's popularity in his native Central City), today is Flash Appreciation Day.

So yeah, I'm going to join in the festivities.  I've previously called Mark Waid's "The Return of Barry Allen" my favorite comic book ever (read about it here), a perfect story for long-time fans of superheroes.  It happened to be my introduction as a fan to the Flash, and it couldn't have been better or harder to live up to in subsequent years, but there were certainly contenders, such as the seminal Flashpoint (both of them; look it up here).

I remember the TV advertisements for the 1990 TV series, and later getting to enjoy this unique contribution to live action superhero lore.  Recently, I've gotten into the new show in a big way.  I can't speak highly enough about it.  Whereas Smallville or the Justice League cartoons or even the series of Avengers movies continuing to play out in theaters have done an excellent job conveying the richness of superhero lore to more mainstream audiences, I don't think any of them compare to what The Flash is doing.  Even with companion shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow further expanding the same vision, neither has the heart or depth of Barry Allen's, arguably, greatest adventures, currently in their second season.  Playing off continuity previously established by Geoff Johns in the comics, Barry's life is complicated by the Reverse Flash manipulating time so that Barry grows up without a mother, and his father convicted for her murder.  More clever still, his would-be mentor Harrison Wells was replaced by the Reverse Flash, and in the second season Wells is once again compromised, but in an equally clever way.  It keeps everyone on their toes, and also makes the character of Vibe the best he's ever been.

The Flash will also be involved in the upcoming Justice League movies, and there's no way to know if he'll have as impactful a showing there as well (but it's likely easy to assume so).  At this point, he's easily DC's fourth guy, after Superman and Batman, who have had numerous live action incarnations over the years, and Wonder Woman, who's celebrating her impending cinematic debut as well.  This will be Flash's third live action incarnation, which is pretty significant.

You can see more of how today has been celebrated here, and also take's recommendation and consider checking out Hero Initiative to see how you can give back to creators who have helped breathe life into legends like the Flash.