Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comics this week.

JLA #2: "I can keep us on point." Oh, I know plenty of organizations other than the Justice League that could use someone with that superpower.

Batman #2: I am fairly sure that's the only POV shot from a cadaver's organs I've ever seen. NICE.

JLA #2: Wow, the Batman/GL/Flash fight against Superman reads like a straight up Heroclix game, doesn't it? Batman attempts to use Outwit against Superman, but misses the Attack roll. GL attacks Superman with a Running Shot, then pushes with Willpower to attempt to Incapacitate him, failing. Superman counter-attacks, with GL protecting himself with Energy Shield/Deflection and protecting Batman with Defend (or you could also perceive it as GL erecting a Barrier to protect them both). Flash shows up with a Hypersonic Speed attack and knocks Superman away from GL and Batman with either Force Blast or Quake. He then Outwits Superman's attack powers, ties him up with Close Combat so that Batman and GL are safe, and uses some combination of Combat Reflexes and Super-Senses to avoid Superman's attack. Flash is probably trying to force Superman to Push and wear himself out. The Indomitable Superman, however, despite Flash's defensive powers (or by Outwitting them) makes the attack roll with doubles, which knocks back Flash quite a few spaces. But then Batman starts talking, which pretty much wins the game automatically.

Batman #2: The Wayne Tower's thirteenth guardian.

JLA #2: Superman's local 'fortress of solitude'. That's genius, and very much in tune with his portrayal in his own books.

Batman #2: Okay, Batman is officially so good that I think I can drop the inaccurately named Detective Comics from my weekly pulls. Not one but essentially TWO "Batman Cold Opens". More clever applications of super-modern technology as begun in last month's issue, that very much "keeps it simple" for the sake of story-telling. Pitch-perfect interaction between Batman and Nightwing. Cart-loads of actual detecting, by both Bruce and Jim. Oh, and Batman running his motorcycle off the rooftop of an elevated train into a low-flying helicopter... while chatting with Alfred. If this book doesn't make you happy, then you probably just don't like Batman.

JLA #2: Black and blue? I have never heard that one before. Perfect. Hilarious. Instant classic. I'll be using that phrase now, much more often than the old fashioned "WF"...

Wonder Woman #2: Strife (and the Gods generally) defeating mortals indirectly through their application of their own natures. Strife doesn't hit her foes in the face; she has her foes do that to one another.

JLA #2: "The Guardians tell me everything." Ladies and gentlemen, let's put our hands together for Hal Jordan, one of DC's greatest natural comedians.

Batman #2: The great work on building Gotham's history continues, incorporating elements from the recent Batman film franchise, from Anton Furst's Gotham, from the current All-Star Western storyline, and tip-of-the-hat homages toward Owlman.

JLA #2. Barry doesn't even bother to pretend he could keep his secret identity from Superman and Batman.

Wonder Woman #2: Hippolyta. You just know she plays rugby.

JLA #2: In a very logical turn of events and one consistent with the character of Central City, the Flash is preventing Barry from fighting crime. OH, the comic book irony!

Batman #2: Why Lincoln March -- and Bruce Wayne -- love Gotham City so much. Now that makes sense.

Wonder Woman #2: Well, there's the traditional mythical origin of Wonder Woman, with its weirdness duly noted. But is it a clever lie, with Diana's real origin being that one that's been leaked on the internet? If so, it would explain why some god doesn't just zap her back into the Pygmalion dust she came from. Because, gosh, she's mighty lippy toward the gods, isn't she?

JLA #2: "I never break the law." Suddenly, I looked at those four characters, and their different personalities and perspectives all snapped into place. Barry the cop; Hal the marshal; Bruce the detective; Superman the vigilante. Nice done, Geoff.

Batman #2: Gotham City has its own nursery rhymes (and apparently in free verse). Well, of course it does!

Wonder Woman #2: "Cockless coop" is not a phrase I ever expected to read in my comics. Or is it 'co-op'? Because that would be even funnier.

JLA #2: The personality pairings. You may not like Geoff Johns' plotting (or as some wags would have it ,"plodding"), but his talent for characterization shines here. He knows that the key to writing the JL as an Ensemble Cast won't be simply defining each character, but defining each character pairing. Batman and GL are the odd couple crime-fighting duo. Flash and GL, the best friends in a road comedy. Batman and Flash are instantly the Detective and the Forensics Expert. Superman and GL are the Action-oriented Powerhouses. And, after only a brief conversation, Batman and Superman become the Vigilantes as well as the Adults and the Big Picture Guys.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Arrow Rant

I am about to rant. I am probably going to get flamed for it.

Perhaps those flames will counter my wave of indignation and we'll all wind up letting off a little steam.

But I cannot sit silently after reading this article, which reveals that filmmaker and journalist Ann Nocenti will be taking over writing duties on Green Arrow.

Now, Ms Nocenti's got more than enough pedigree (certainly enough to write Green Arrow, snort!); she wrote a passel of comics for Marvel in the '80s. In addition to some strong 'socially relevant' stories for Daredevil, she wrote a miniseries starring, Dazzler, which immediately gives her credit for gumption in my book.

Plus, I am delighted to see that she recognizes at least two of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Comic Books (Self-Referentialism and Decompression).

"Over the years I'd run into a comic here and there, and I would try and read it. It was like multiple characters, lots of characters squashed onto a page. A story you couldn't really get into. You had no idea of what was going on, and I thought, ‘They kinda lost their way, they're not telling single stories anymore.' "
This is very encouraging; if Nocenti can bring the 'done-in-one' to Green Arrow (and perhaps bring the practice back into fashion), she will have my admiration and thanks.

But I'm much less encouraged that she apparently knows zero about Green Arrow.

"Green Arrow," aka Oliver Green, is a rich billionaire based in Star City, which is apparently based on Seattle. "He's modeled after Robin Hood, so I guess his origin story is ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor,' " she says.

Nocenti didn't know anything about the character until she read Wikipedia. "The thing that struck me the most was the phrase that kept coming up over and over — ‘thrill-seeking activist.' Which I can get behind because I'm kinda a thrill-seeking activist."

I get it, DC; you're doing whatever you can to try to find more female writers. Ordinarily I might not favor that kind of 'reverse-sexism', but given the atrocious portrayals of Starfire and Catwoman since the reboot, it's pretty clear that something needs to be done to ameliorate the Slavering Fanboy Writer Syndrome that's smothering comic books.

But really... even I think Ollie deserves a writer -- male or female -- who doesn't have to look him up on Wikipedia to find out who he is. Is this one of the "1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow"? Give him a writer who admittedly knows nothing about him? Have we forgotten Jodi Picoult already?

Green Arrow has a Golden Age pedigree, with a longer and more consistent publishing history than anyone other than the other original JLAers. And you pick someone to write him who managed to be a comic book writer for, oh, 15 years, without ever having heard of Green Arrow?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but: GREEN ARROW DESERVES BETTER. DC, don't give you characters short-shrift in the rush to diversify your writing staff.