Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bat-Mite versus Green Arrow?

I'm on to you; I've sussed you out.  Through the power of literary detection and multi-dimensional logic, I know that YOU have secretly taken over DC:

Bat-Mite.

DC's Cheerleader-in-Chief


What other explanation can there be?  Who else could 
(a) come up with such ridiculous ideas to 'improve' and 'help' DC's classic heroes,
(b) have the power to make it happen at the snap of his fingers; and 
(c) be shocked when it doesn't work out?

(d) Who else would give Bat-Mite his own comic?

One of the latest targets of Bat-Mite's unique brand of 'help' is Green Arrow.

In case you haven't been following on the television, Ollie Queen's bow-wielding vigilante has been experiencing an all-time height in popularity, serving as the epicenter of a renaissance of comic book superhero shows.  There's been some solid criticism of the show's third season being too dark, and the producers, taking it to heart and encouraged by the lighter tone of successful sister series "The Flash", have vowed to let the show lighten up a bit in its fourth season (including Ollie rebranding himself from "Arrow" to "Green Arrow").  

So at the same time, DC, under the direction of Bat-Mite, naturally decides to make Green Arrow The Comic Book....

a horror title.

Well, we all agree: Green Arrow could certainly use a hand.


They've hired  (dashingly handsome) award-winning Ivy League author Ben Percy, who intends to turn it into a macabre/horror book.

Now, I have only read one thing by Ben Percy; his Batman comic with the plane of dead bodies. I liked that story a lot, so I have zero issue with Percy himself or his writing.

Also, I'm a big horror fan (film, not novels, but I'm not a novel reader).  

All that said: going macabre/horror with Green Arrow is a pretty wacky idea, Bat-Mite.  It almost sounds like a prank, even though Percy sells it well in a recent interview.  

I suppose "Green Arrow is the new Batwoman", that is, a Batman-copy who traffics in horror / macabre/ supernatural stories.  One the one hand, Batwoman has shown that that can work (until Bat-Mite decides you can't get married and yer comic goes down the tubes).  On the other hand...Green Arrow?  Hitting Hannibal Lecter / Jason Voorhees / Chthulu in the face with a boxing glove arrow?  That is so laughable I just might go for it (just like Bunnyman and Semisuper Clark).  
But, as a general rule, when an established character suddenly gets completely transplanted into a different genre (such as the Atom or Aquaman becoming sword'n'sorcery, or Martian Manhunter and Dick Grayson and Aquaman becoming spy titles), it's a sign of desperation, an admission that you've given up on the character.  During the District of Columbia's mass gentrification of the last decade of two, we became familiar with the term "facade-omy": gutting out and replacing a building's innards completely but keeping just the very outside for appearances' sake as a sop to history.  That's exactly what's happening to characters in these circumstances. Instead of being regentrified, they are being regenrefied.  

I'll say this for Percy: he's not afraid of WORDS

Apparently GA's new sidekick is the Purple Prose Slinger.


Novelists seldom are; I think maybe people who write comic books SHOULD be a bit more afraid to use words.  And Percy plans to use ALL the words apparently. On every page. Not sure that's a good fit with Green Arrow.  But who am I to argue with 5th-dimensional imps?

One thing, however, will sell me:

Ollie's next genre: tentacle porn.

If this cover means we're going to get a grim'n'gritty redux of THE OCTOPUS, I will TOTALLY be there for that.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Echo and the Bunnyman



 "...while wearing a domino mask and purple and green jumpsuit while flying on some mysteriouslly propelled levitation device."


The Supervillain Handbook: the Ultimate How-To Guide to Destruction and Mayhem, by Matt D. Wilson, 2012, pg. 2.




Well, it's not exactly a domino mask. But after all, isn't Lex exactly the kind of ass who wears Google-glasses?


Although I am (as previously mentioned) strongly disconcerted by apparent shifts in the Aquaman storyline in the "DCYou" (*sigh*), and amused by the absurdity of Commissioner Bunnyman in the Batman titles, I am surprisingly sanguine about the Latest Big New Changes to Superman, which include Lois's exposure of his secret identity and him having a mere echo of his former power levels.


First off: at least they didn't require a Sand Creature.  Because I still have a headache from that bit of nonsense.

Second, the Periodic Depowering of Superman is just something I have come to expect.  As I have written about before, long-running iconic superheroes tend to develop "persona-cycles": extremes along various dimension of their characters between which they oscillate.  Each character becomes a big 'mixing board' and the writer is the sound engineer tweaking what version of the hero we get.  Is "Superman as Kryptonian alien" turned up loud, or is "Clark Kent the farmboy" dialed up?  Are Superman's power levels amped up to an earth-shoving 11 or is straining to leap over tall buildings?  Long-running characters NEED these kind of options in order to stay fresh and maintain the constant illusion of change.  





I have seen "Clark Kent no more" and "Superman no more" and everything in between.  This latest-- 'Superman is Clark Kent...Revealed!'-- is frankly, a welcome change.


It lets us suspend our suspension of disbelief that Ace Reporter Lois Lane (or anyone else) can't figure out that Superman is Clark Kent and has do what a reporter actually would; report it.


It lets the writers off the hook about what to do with Clark Kent. Because it's been pretty clear that (except for Geoff Johns) none of them has the slightest idea what to do with him.  They killed his parents off, so he has no family to talk to (including Supergirl and Krypto who keep getting sent off on a space-bus).  He's got no (human) love interest and his relationship with Wonder Woman is clearly the last priority in and least interesting part of her/his life (since it seldom turns up in either of their solo titles).  He's got no interest in his OWN stupid blog that Cat Grant bullied him into (if that even exists after Perry White hired him back, oh wait he fired him again).  The only remotely functioning relationship he seems to have is with... Jimmy Olsen. How sad is that?



Answer: very sad.

It lets them off the hook a bit with Superman, too, because he's hard to write when he's super-superpowerful.  As someone wise once pointed out, "Seeing Superman pushing a planet out of the way isn't impressive, it's ludicrous.  Seeing Superman lift a TANK is impressive, because it's on a scale we can understand directly."  And now we have a Superman whose super-effort we can feel again, because we see HIM feeling them.  


Besides, "Superman starts to lose his powers but won't stop fighting crime and needs to team up with Commission Gordon in a Batman-robot suit" is the most Silver Age thing I've seen since Kryptococcus the Omni-Germ.  I'm nearly willing to go along for the ride; I just wish it were a simple story, not another fake 'new status quo' that will have been superseded at least three times before "Batman vs. Superman" comes out.




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 were reaffirmed through his stories and supporting cast, and he was the poster boy for successful 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 won't 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 complaint 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...?


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