Monday, September 19, 2011

Rage of the Red Absorbascon....!

I’ve been slowing let the new DCU sink into my bones before I sink my fangs back into it (um… except for the two posts where I already did). For the record, I support DC’s decision, I think they are doing the right thing in principle, and in practice most of their continuity have the whiff of commonsense about them. Some decisions are certainly not consistent with my tastes (Darkseid? Deathstroke? Eyeroll.) But that’s to be expected. No version of the DCU is going to be entirely to any one fan’s taste; if it were, it would probably only have one fan, which is not a good business model.

That said, it’s time to comment on some of things I’m not liking, spewing forth my carmine bile like Dex-Starr the Red Lantern Cat.

Mr. Terrific. Gainluca Gugliotta: put down your pencil… step away from it slowly and keep your hands in the air; you are under arrest for crimes against art. Usually I’m not fussy about art (at least I do not think of myself as being fussy), but the art in Mister Terrific is, frankly, unacceptable. No one should be drawn with a neck that looks like I could personally crush it in one of my tiny little hands. How much worse is it when that person is Karen Starr? At times many of characters have an odd, warped look, something like those caricatures that street artists draw; I had to double check to make sure that this work was paid for by DC and not the WPA. It was as if the artist had been possessed by the ghost of Gene Colan, then fell down drunk with inspiration and drew everything from the perspective of someone who can’t get up off the floor. I thought Mr Terrific was supposed to be hip, not FULL OF HIPS. HIPS EVERYWHERE. Giant hips. Thrusting at you, shattering the Fourth Wall. Great Shades of Elvis! Of all of the art styles I might have encouraged to be used for Mr Terrific, Pelvic Transquartomuralism was not on the list.

Static Shock. Hey, the new Spider-Man is black! And by that I do not mean Miles Morales in the Ultimate Universe. I actually mean DC’s Static, who is so annoying with his” juvenile patter while fighting in the Manhattan (and not Dakota) skyline” routine that I wanted to jump into the comic and expose myself to some dangerous chemicals or radioactive experiment, just so I could become a supervillain long enough to punch him in the face. This saddens me. I liked the cartoon show a lot; I really wanted to like this new Static and his book (particularly if DC is sacrificing Black Lightning from continuity just to give this kid breathing room). But honestly, I do not anticipate continuing to play money to subject myself to this comic. Although recent developments suggest I may wish to delay that decision.

Suicide Squad. DC, I call you cowards: that is NOT Amanda Waller. Part of the reason I loved Amanda Waller was precisely because she wasn’t an aerobics instructor wrapped in spandex. As I’ve said before: there are fat people in the real world. Many of them are accomplished, powerful, interesting, influential; just like “normal” people. Once upon a time, DC had a place for those people in its world, too. But fat people must now be condemned and cannot serve as positive role models, because, well, gosh, any decent person simply doesn’t get fat. So long, Etta Candy the Solid! Good bye, Amanda Waller the Hefty! If we permit you to exist, it’s only after a trip to the same Fat Farm Alfred Pennyworth got sent to, all those years ago.

Stormwatch. I was so curious how the Wildstorm Universe characters would be come across as integral parts of the DC universe, rather than being stuck in their other dimensional shtetl . And now I know: BADLY. Suddenly, they all seem… ridiculous. Most of them have absurdist hypostatic powers that are pretty much just like the magick-y style powers of Golden Age heroes that let them do whatever the heck the writer wanted them to do. When J’onn J’onnz is most normal, realistic character in your book, your book has a problem. Or perhaps I should just say, “I have a problem with your book”, which is trying so hard to have been written by Grant Morrison I can see the strain on every page. It will be a shame if comics only gay-male couple + the freakin' Martian Manhunter isn't enough to keep me interested in a comic. But a shame it may have to be... .

Batwoman. Okay, I have nothing bad to say about Batwoman. So what if I can barely follow her zany backstory, even though I read all her previous issues and should know her backstory already? Batwoman is just … beautiful. It is what comic book art should be: it is stylish, uses the medium fully, and does so in service of the story. And Batwoman herself? Pretty much the best character design ever. Long after DC’s new found obsession with kneepads, functionality, and collars is forgotten, Batwoman will still look exactly as she does now: Red and Black and Fabulous all over.


farsider said...

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but except for JLA1 I have yet to be able to bring myself to buy a DCnU book. It all seems ugly and cynical and crude.

Bryan L said...

Pelvic Transquartomuralism is my new favorite term ever. In fact, I'm going to change my name to Transquartomuralism. Because to do otherwise is unthinkable.

Scipio said...

I hope I'm not taking too many liberties if I call you "Pel".

SallyP said...

Uh yeah...I was a bit upset about not having Mister Terrific in my beloved store, but now that I've actually seen some of the art...I'm SO glad that I didn't pick this up.

Batwoman is purty. So so purty.

And as much as I do love Martian Manhunter, I can't say that I'm that thrilled with the rest of them in Stormwatch

Kevin Street said...

That's an interesting point about Stormwatch. I enjoyed the first issue, but you may be right about their powers being too large and nonspecific for effective storytelling.

Stormwatch will probably remain mostly separate from the DCnU, taking on threats of increasingly ridiculous proportion all by themselves. But it could get silly after a while, with all these giant space monsters and so on showing up, destroying small towns or suburbs here and there, and no one else on a crowded planet noticing.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Terrific was such a disappointment. The art was as rough as you say, and the script veered from exposition to embarrassing attempts at making a point about race to failing to show the title character as truly intelligent in any way other than making gadgets. Michael Holt was one of my favorite modern characters, and I was hoping for a better first issue.

Tell me you did not just dis Gene the Dean, though. The man was a master.

- Mike Loughlin

Mag said...

Did you read Batwoman in book or digital form?

Scipio said...

Kevin: increasing ridiculous BEYOND being attacked by the moon? Zowie, LOL>

Mike: Yes, apparently the DCU's third smartest man doesn't know what an "integer" is (I think he confused them with 'integral equations'). Which makes me the second smartest man in the DCU, I guess.

Mag: Digital. I assume you're asking to know how the unique layouts fare in the medium. I, too was concerned... But I'm happy to report that through the "letterboxing followed by full page/spread" option, I got more than my usual full enjoyment, visually.

Anonym0use said...

Amanda's not fat, she's just big boned.

TotalToyz said...

DC should just put this kind of thing on the regular schedule. Announce that, every 25 years, they will totally throw out everything that has gone before and start out fresh. Might cut down on a few of the complaints.

Nah, it wouldn't.

Steve Mitchell said...

I'm a Wildstorm fan of long standing, and I think DC has pretty much killed anything that was special, fun, and effective from the Wildstorm Universe by folding it into the New 52.

Grifter worked best in the context of WildCats; without that connection, and the Kherubim/Daemonite background, he just isn't a strong enough character to merit a regular book of his own. Of course, now that he hears voices in his head, maybe he's DC's version of Deadpool?

And Stormwatch was Authority-Lite in all but name. The team has lost its United Nations linkage (thank you, JLI), and none of the early-era Stormwatch characters, such as Fuji, Winter, Farenheit, and Battalion, are present. Instead, it looks like an Authority reunion in the making, with only the Doctor and Swift still to make an appearance.

After seeing how these two Wildstorm properties were handled in the New 52, I won't bother trying Voodoo.

Mag said...

Yes, I wanted to know how the layouts looked digitally. I'm not sold on getting single issues digitally, but your enthusiasm might make me reconsider.

Hoosier X said...

All this talk about the "New 52" has piqued my interest. So after a hiatus of 6 or 7 years where I didn't buy any new comics (except for that JLA Detroit adventure in JLA Classified or whatever it's called), I trekked over to the only comic book store in my awful Mojave Desert community in the hopes of getting a few #1's to see what all the buzz is about.

They were sold out of everything that looked interesting to me. (No Detective. No Batgirl. No Batwoman. No O.M.A.C.)

I gave them a list of the future #1's I'm interested in (really looking forward to Wonder Woman!) and I decided to buy just one of the #1's still available.

The negative comments about Mr. Terrific made me hesitant to even look at it. They also had Grifter #1. (I don't even know what that is.) So I picked up the only "New 52" title that was left: Franken stein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

It wasn't that bad. It was kind of fun, in a dopey "Crazy DC Monster Comic Book" way.

I have to call the comic book store (it's actually a war-gaming store with a walk-in closet devoted to comic books) and ask them to save these for me beginning with #2. (I'm a sucker for the Creature Commandos.)

steve mitchell said...

I read some more of the new DC titles last night, and I thought Animal Man and Immortal Man were both good. Good enough that I'd want to buy a second issue and see what happens next! And, much against my expectations, I also liked Batwing and Men of War (the lead Sgt. Rock feature, not the throwaway Navy Seals backup).

Absolute worst so far? Static Shock.

Randy Jackson said...

I did not read Batwoman 1, but I did read the earlier adventures in Detective. Am I the only one who thinks that while the art is very pretty, J.H. Williams III's storytelling is below par?

Scipio said...

Randy, I'm not sure they've published enough stories consistently and consecutively for me to figure that out :-)

I'll admit the "Alice" didn't grab me, but La Llorona is.

Along with some unfortunate DCU children, it seems.

tad said...

If you did not make up "transquarto muralism", but found it somewhere in the public domain, I am definitely going to steal it and use it over and over until everyone believes it's mine. (Theft by attrition.) If you DID make it up, well, I just have to bow my head and acknowledge. Respect.

P.S. Because I haven't had a chance to read the new DC titles yet -- in the middle of all kinds of craziness -- I'm only hearing about them from you and other critics I like, and that's almost more fun. Hmmm. I may have to consider this comics-at-second-hand thing as a revolutionary new way of engaging with the form. Kind of like the way most people are with the Classics of Western Literature, like "Moby Dick"...

Scipio said...

I actually did coin the phrase 'transquartomuralism', Tad, but you are welcome to use it (you know where to mail the royalty check). It's one of my post keywords, in fact, since I have discussed it before ;-) .

As for hearing about the new DCU secondhand, I understand the approach. I long ago made the decision never to listen to the President's State of the Union speeches, but only read analysis of them, because, in Washington what matters it not what he said but what people think he said.