Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I've got some DC You for YOU, DC.

So, we are entering the brave new world of the "DC You"
According to DC's press release:
In "DC You," a new advertising campaign promoting diversity, DC Entertainment aims for its 24 new titles and 25 ongoing series to have "something for everyone."
The "DC You" initiative, which kicks off on June 3, will highlight four main themes: characters, talent, stories and fans. While celebrating iconic characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the initiative will also feature creators like Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Geoff Johns and Annie Wu. Likewise, new storytelling directions will be spotlighted through taglines and, like the name suggests, thank fans new and old. 
"With the New DC Universe, there’s a story for every kind of DC Comics fan. There’s a story for YOU,” explained Amit Desai, DC Entertainment's senior vice president of marketing and global franchise management. "The DC Comics slate rolling out this summer truly offers a comic book for everyone and our new advertising campaign -- DC YOU -- celebrates this bold, new direction."

Well, that certainly sounds nice.  But I've got some news for you, DC....


You had a book for me. It was called Aquaman.  In it, your overall creative architect and master of returning characters to their essentials had, nearly overnight, restored Aquaman's glory, embraced his so-called failings, and showed that he was (as the kids call it) an awesome bad-ass, and always was.  His position of respect was restored, his consort reintroduced as a fully realized, independent, and powerful partner, and a mythos was built around him using new, old, and revivified concepts that never overshadowed him and placed him firmly at its center. Furthermore, that new mythos itself became the center of universe-wide arcs, such as the war against Atlantis in Justice League.  Aquaman's ties to both the land and the sea we reaffirmed through his stories and supporting cast, and he was the poster boy for success revamp in the New52.



A happy couple? Can't have THAT in the DCU, now, can we?

You've replaced that with an Aquaman redressed in a complicated non-iconic outfit designed to echo a movie that would be out for another 2 years.  An Aquaman, who just as you had built up to a score of pregnant possibilities (such as the discovery of the Seven Seas), is now thrown out of Atlantis and being hunted by his own lover.  



You and me both, Arthur..

You had a book for me. And you ruined it. Oh, and not just this one.  I could tell this same story (with different details) for other books that you had for me, and ones that had me hooked on DC: Batwoman, the Flash. even Green Lantern.  And you've ruined them all (and more, including Batman/Detective).


You don't have any problem making books for me (or others). Your problem is that you can't stop ruining them.  And why? Because you are addicted to "bold, new directions".


I am reminded of "Terminal Man" (either the movie or the novel).  Doctors try to cure a man who's a victim of seizures of violence behavior by implanting a device that stimulates pleasure centers in his brain to forestall the seizures.  Eventually, his brain figures out that it can cause itself pleasure by triggering the seizures, which start to come more and more frequently until it finally switches to a state of constant mindless seizures of violent upheaval compound by a positive feedback loop.



"Do you smell...almonds?"

That would be you, DC  You are addicted to 'bold, new directions" and you are causing them more and more frequently because of the pleasure they give you (such as press attention). This isn't a complain about the direction you decided to go in (except for Aquaman).  Let's stipulate that EVERYTHING you are about to do is WONDERFUL; you still have a problem, because you can't go for six months to a year without a bold new direction, and new creative team, or a new status quo for your characters.   You find rebooting so liberating that you are now close to entering a state of continually reboot. That leaves readers with very little reason to read anything more than a month or two, because we know it's only going to be wiped out by the next creative team a few months later.  


We don't need a bold new direction from you, DC.  We need you to stop changing direction every few months.

  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

So, if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent...


...isn't the real problem: you?

No irony or sarcasm; I mean that.

Yeah, I bought it. The trailer for Supergirl.  Hook, line, and sinker.

Okay, sure, it begins hilariously like the SNL parody skit of a "Black Widow" movie. which absolutely every single person who has seen both has commented on.  Frankly, I think that's to its credit, rather than a criticism.

First, Black Widow and Supergirl are two very different characters. Black Widow is a kick-ass no-nonsense Russian killer ninja spy-chick human weapon assassin agent (with a heart of gold).  That's why depicting her as a ditzy, overwhelmed girl-in-the-big-city is so funny (and would be wrong).  But Supergirl's story -- like it or not -- has always been that of a young person struggling to fit in on her adopted homeworld, to be an ordinary person with extraordinary powers and responsibilities.  And that is the story the trailer tells.

In case you now just take it for granted, that's kind of Superman's story too, except he's farther along the path than Supergirl and had years with supportive parents to make the transition.  Clark Kent is wage-earner in a demanding media-based profession with a difficult boss in a big city.


Although one assumes Perry White hasn't had implants.
Yet.

And, essentially, so is Kara in the new trailer.  In the absence of a tv version of Superman, Kara Danvers becomes Clark Kent.  Finally, we will see the ONE thing we have never seen: Supergirl without Superman around to overshadow her.


You COULD have gotten a show where Linda Danvers is Governor of Florida.
So just be grateful.


Now, some would complain about showing Kara as a being hesitant or unfamiliar with her powers. That's not like Superman at all and it's demeaning to show her as an unconfident neophyte!  For those folks, I have one word: Smallville.  There was a series that showed Clark Kent doing exactly that...for ten years.


The Smallville Decade; It's really all just a "Blur".

Besides, nearly every superhero show starts with its hero getting powers and getting used to them (or to using them to Fight Crime).  It's part of helping the audience identify with the main character.


You know what else helps the audience identify with a character?
A horse.  A white horse that saves you in the nick of time.  It's just like the cavalry except without any guys sitting on it.

Is Kara a little goofy? Or course she is. So is Barry Allen.


Nice hat, Barry.


Almost everyone in their early 20s is goofy (particularly on teevee).  Even hyper-competent genius Felicity Smoak is goofy.


No, Felicity. It is not.


What do you expect Supergirl to be?



Super-FIERCE?!

 The show even tackles some of the sexist belly-shirt/hotpants horrors that have been forced on poor Kara through the years.


Fans: "SuperMAN would never wear that."
Me: "He would if they had hired Mario Lopez."



 Instead of searching for a man to bring meaning to her life, Kara chooses a life of heroing.  A choice she makes for herself, without interference from her (assiduously unnamed) cousin.


Potentially dangerous leg-distorting phenomena, I'll wager.


Good for her. I have spent years making fun of Supergirl for symbolizing futility and determinism and lack of free will.  Finally we have a Supergirl who makes choices. You can make fun of her all you want, but for now I am very much on her side.

However, I am still NOT down with 7-foot muscular super-model Jimmy -- oh, sorry, JAMES-- Olsen.  But I've made a decision.  I will soldier on as follows: I will simply assume that REAL Jimmy Olsen accidentally drank some potion at Prof. Potter's lab or was exposed to some alien artifact at the Fortress of Solitude that caused one of his trademark Amazing Transformations into this:




This is NOT "Superman's Pal".
This is more like "Scipio's Pal".

 My other issue is with Kara's semi-Cisco sidekick, who's posited as an unrequited love interest but smells much much much more like her Sassy Gay Friend.


He...could ALSO be my pal.  My sassy gay pal.

Particularly since all we see him do in the trailer is assume she's a lesbian and then help her pick out her outfit.  

C'mon, showrunners; it's time for a superhero to have a Sassy Gay Friend.  Heck...even Black Widow got one:



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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boycotting Bunnyman

Okay, let's talk about Bunnyman.


"I AM ORDINANCE! I AM THE HEIGHT!"


I'm sorry; I mean NuBatman.  Bat-Jim.  Gordonman.  Tick Gordon.  Whatever you want to call him.

I'm necessarily interested in discussing whether the idea of Jim Gordon playing the role of Batman makes any sense.   What does "make sense" even MEAN in the context of a comic book?  Jim Gordon shooting an orphan for no reason; THAT would make no sense.  Anything short of that is just comic books.

But I am interested in discussing some issues that it brings up.

THE ARMS RACE

Scott Snyder seems like a very nice, earnest, young man.  But after month after month of nothing but 'huge, game-changing stories', I'm convinced that's all he can do.  I make fun of the Bronze Age Batman a lot (and with good reason); but at least in the Bronze Age, they knew how to tell a one-issue, simple story that seemed meaningful and satisfying withOUT breaking all the toys.
"I would just say that Dark Knight Returns was a huge change," Snyder said. "'Year One' was a huge change. One of the things that was very heartening for me, when I was doing 'Zero Year,' was that a friend sent me a back-of-the-comic letter to Frank Miller when he did 'Year One,' and it's basically about how he was ruining Batman with 'Year One,' because he was making it so dark."
Plus, Snyder and Capullo have given themselves an "out" — they admitted to Newsarama that there's a plan for bringing Bruce Wayne back to life, although they stopped short of saying when or even if it would happen during their run.
"We would never, ever make a change like this unless we had a better story for all these characters," Snyder said, "including on the other side of that change."

I don't want to read stories because I have to, because they Change Everything.  I want to read stories simply because they are stories I want to read. Stories I deserve to read.  I can skip them and not be lost on all the developments in Gotham City, yes. But I don't skip them because I know I'll be missing out on an experience I will enjoy.  

The literary arms race in comics is out of control (at least in Gotham).  Every story is about an enormously far reaching past conspiracy that underlies everything unbeknownst to us (e.g., The Court of Owls; The Riddler took over all of Gotham City once, the immortal Joker); or Batman's Greatest Enemy doing his Greatest Evil (breaking up the Batfamily; figuring out Batman's secret identity, blowing up the batcave, cutting off his face, secretly becoming Batman's new pal, controlling the entire Justice League, cutting off Alfred's hand, killing himself and Batman); or a hinted game-changed future (Batman crucified on the batsignal, Gotham destroyed again, Catwoman is a crimelord, Batman's dead, Jim Gordon is Batman, my god nothing will ever be the same).

Frankly, I'm tired of it, and I would pay good money to read a story where Batman tries to catch a fur thief.  Not that there are still fur thieves. Or even furs.  But you know what I mean.


COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN BUTTON





'Nuff said.


THE INEVITABILIFICATION OF ELSEWORLDS.

Look, we are just start to recover from a generational obsession with making Kingdom Come a reality.  And now we've already started on the path with Batman Beyond.  Making 'the Powers Family" into a force in Gotham and one relevant to Batman just plays into that.  I don't want that for the same reason  I don't want to vote for a former president's wife, or son, or brother; I don't like being told that This Future Is Inevitable and You Will Like It Because You Have No Other Choice.




Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Iris of it all


Well, there's not much I can say to add to io9's 38 questions about the hilariously ridiculous season finale of Gotham.

But I can tackle the Flash and vent some pent up confusions and questions that other viewers my share....


  1. Who is signing Caitlin and Cisco's paychecks?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That's driving me NUTS.
  2. "Caitlin good." Indeed.
  3. Ah, Clancy Brown.  Gen. Eiling sounds more like Grodd than Grodd does.
  4. Caitlin is really girly. And that's okay, because she makes it work.
  5. C'mon, Cisco; even I would have thought to put the anti-mind-control tech in a football helmet.  And we KNOW you have them there because you see one in the first episode.
  6. Have they tried just asking Gideon where Eobard is? Because you KNOW she knows.
  7. I have more respect for Iris now that Iris knows that everyone ELSE has no respect for her.
  8. Except Caitlin. Because Caitlin's good.
  9. Am I the only person who expected Joe to call him "Goldface"?
  10. Speaking of gold, what does Grodd want with gold?  Or does Wells want it? Or was it just a convenient lure for the Flash?  No, that makes no sense.
  11. Hey, they remembered the banana joke.
  12. When will Barry realize that he can THROW STUFF at someone other than the Pied Piper? Because I can't help but think Grodd wouldn't do well after being hit with a baseball at 300 mph a thousand times in a row.
  13. Speaking of whom, wouldn't some of Cisco's sonics come in handy against Grodd? Particularly since Barry can both wear earplugs AND run faster than the speed of sound?
  14. You know, you really should make funny of someone just because his name is "Eobard". Particularly when you're an adult who still calls himself "Eddie".
  15. Had to pause the playback when Joe called Iris "brilliant" just to laugh.
  16. Central City's sewer system has...open ground level doors that allow for a five-mile run-in?  Truly a weird place.
  17. Not being famous does not make you a failure, Eobard. Don't be rude.
  18. Who gets Wells' house?
  19. New Flash drinking game!  Drink every time Iris finds out that someone else knew something that she didn't.  You will NOT finish the show.
  20. My god are they actually fixing the hole in STAR Labs roof?!
  21. The Thawnes are my new favorite comedy duo.  "Ed, Eddie, and Eobard" would be a great show.
  22. It's ironic the Gen. Eiling is actually more interesting than Captain Atom
  23. Which is more annoying: Iris when she's wrong or Iris when she's right?.
  24. Does anyone else think that the way the Flash team finally defeats the Reverse-Flash is by giving him exactly what he wants and letting him go home?
  25. For that matter, did Barry ever considering saying, "Hey, Eobard, let's go back in time, un-kill my mother and Harrison Wells and then all work together to get you home, big guy?"
  26. Why the heck send Cisco out to get Grodd when CAITLIN is the one Grodd likes? Sexism much?!?!?





Friday, May 01, 2015

I Bet He Thinks This Post is About Him

And that's what matters most, isn't it, Ralph?
You getting applause...?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Because you're RICH!



Where was I? Oh, yes; making the point that the Dibny's --the sainted sacrificial goats of the Silver Age -- were terrible people.


Did you know Ralph was the only super-hero who publicly revealed his true identity?


FLASH FACT!

And why?  Because he wanted to use it to get fame, and money, and a rich and famous wife.


"I WON you! Like the lottery!  And, like the lottery, you come with a lifetime supply of MONEY!"

Ralph was a vain, self-centered jackass.  Sue was an air-headed heiress who spent all her time shopping and laughing at Ralph's pretentions to fame.  This is not some later interpretation by a cruel, crude writer; this is how they were created.  All these panels are from 1964. 



Sue can barely contain her laughter at Ralph making a fool of himself.
"Sure, honey; tell 'em who you are. THEN we'll see what they say! *snort*"

Sue may not have a superpower (that she drinks from a bottle) but she does have Olympic-level passive-aggressive emasculation and derision skills. She trained with Iris West.

"I'm sure SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE must have heard of you!"
Holy crap, these two make Diana and Ching look like a mutual admiration society.

"Maybe you can HIRE someone to tell people who you are, so that I don't have to listen you to do in 24/7!"  Sue, born into fame and wealth as the heiress to the Dearborn fortune, is always amused by Ralph's bourgeois pretensions.

You think they were some kind of crime-solving duo, don't you?  Ha. Think again.  Sue has little time for Ralph's grubby field work, and would go shopping or to the theater while Ralph was doing his goofy, stretchy detecting.


"Here's a wad of cash that was in the glove compartment; knock yerself out."
"ooo! Great, honey! Hey, wait...! WHO'S GOING TO DRIVE MY CAR??!"
Because that's what matters most, Ralph.

World-famous elongated douchebag.

The Dibnys were terrible people, and your memories of them are false.

Here's a little haiku for Haikuesday. I call it, "Because You're Rich!"


BUT NOW I KNOW THAT
WINNING YOU WAS REALLY THE
HIGH POINT OF MY LIFE!


What haiku can you compose condemning the Dibnys, the heralds of our current culture of fame-seeking?

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Dibnys were terrible people and your memories of them are false

"Oh, the poor sainted Dibnys! How fun and innocent they were and how much we all loved them!"

How often have I heard someone say this about the Elongated Man and his wife, Sue?

Look; no one likes what Brad Meltzer did in Identity Crisis, and, yes it was a tawdry, pointless tarnishing of the Silver and Bronze Ages in a tasteless, muddled attempt to make the comics of our childhood seem more adult and less embarrassing, with an incoherent, unsolvable "mystery".  

On the other hand. it did give us this:


Ah, Jean; always so radiant.  Like plutonium.

Never look back, Jean; never look back.


But, somehow, the backlash against Identity Crisis has retroactively bleached the Dibny's into the symbols of comic book fun and niceness.  And people who don't know any better just keep parroting that as some sort of Given Fact of Continuity.

Well... I call bullshit.  

Most of the people who talk like that about the Dibny's haven't actually ever read one of their stories. Those who have, haven't done so since they were kids.  

Okay, sure, Ralph fought crime and Sue, well, she put up with Ralph.  But weren't anybody you'd want to know. Ralph was a fame-hungry gold-digger and Sue was a self-centered debutante.  Here's a prime example of the fun-filled Dibnys....


The Dibnys take vacation somewhere no one knows them and then are disappointed that no one knows them.


"Why read the paper if I'm not in it?"
Thank god these two died before Facebook and Twitter.

Then Sue has a paper-shredding conniption because she's not one of THE TEN MOST ADMIRED WOMEN IN AMERICA.  Why would anyone admire you, Sue? You married the Elongated Man.


"Never been so humiliated in your life"?!
Don't be ridiculous, Sue: You married the Elongated Man!

Ralph's only thought it, "Well, it's a pity you can't be more like ME, dear!" He can't even be bothered to cough up a "Oh, honey, I think you're MUCH prettier than Bella Abzug!"  


Although nobody rocked a high hat like Abzug.

Then Sue hulks out, because Sue is a crazy person.


Let's see Bella Abzug do THAT.

Why isn't there a Convergence issue where Sue Dibny and Jean Loring have taken over a domed city by simply killing everyone in it, one by one?  I'd read that. Repeatedly.

Ralph, being the jerk that he is, abandons his bridezilla to her envy-rage with a condescending PEK, because apparently Sue does this all the time, and he'll just buy her something later.


"I'll pick up a dozen American beauty roses and---charge them to Sue, because she's the one with all the money."

The Dibnys were terrible people and your memories of them are false.

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