Friday, January 20, 2012

I agree with Sherri Ly of Fox News about DC Comics!

Sherri Ly of Fox News,

Thank you SO MUCH for speaking out the TRUTH about DC Comics!

WASHINGTON - Most people think of comic books for kids,

Kids of ALL ages! Why, Simba Information claims that one in four comic book readers are over 65!

but many of today's comics are anything but that. Turn the pages of DC Comics now and you will find plenty of blood, sex and violence.

It's a sign of the times, I'm afraid. Like you, Sherri, I miss the good old days when DC Comics would never have been sullied with



and violence.

It is part of an edgy makeover that has caused controversy among some comic fans.

And it takes so much to provoke controversy this famously placid fanbase, Sherri! Clearly, this is world's worse than when Speedball became Penance, when a Latin America wrestler broke Batman in half over his knee, and when Superman/Flash/Wonder Woman/Green Lantern killed Zod/Zoom/Max Lord/the entire Green Lantern Corps and then the entire universe. .

DC Comics' characters include the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.

Ah, sorry, Sherri; otherwise I agree with you completely, but I must correct you on this one small point. There are no characters that are "the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman." Only Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are "the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman." I am surprised a comic book expert like you doesn't know that.

Today, some of these superheroes would make Archie and Veronica blush. "They more or less darkened the characters up. Today, they introduce a lot more reality into it like homosexuality, adultery, all that stuff. It's in the books now," said comic collector Joe Blackwell.

Oh, SO true! I weep that the home medium of Archie and Veronica is being sullied by

violent superheroes


and adultery.

He started reading comics when he was eight years old, but they didn't look like the ones in stores now.

Joe Blackwell? The one in the "Rap with Cap" letters column in Captain America Vol 1 #160 (April 1973)? He's about my age then!

There is Batman and Catwoman having sex on the rooftop,

Remember this one from our childhood, Joe?

a drunken Bruce Wayne,

or the Batman Year One adaptation?

and graphic images of blood-splattered battles with heads chopped off.

Can't they keep it tidy, as they did in the Golden Age?

Sigh; we all miss the Spectre.

"It's sort of like a fictionalized Playboy for kids at its worst,"

said Neil Bernstein, Ph.D., a child psychologist and author of "How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble."

Hm. That sounds way too much like a "Delinquency for Dummies" book; needs a punchier title!

Critics worry the once family friendly genre has gone too far. Psychologists point out the overexposure to sex and violence for young children can encourage aggression.

"I think too many kids would be put in harm's way or at risk," Bernstein said.

The female characters are more sexualized.

Totally with you on this point, Sherri. In my house, only MEN can be sexualized, like it should be.

One of the most noticeable transformations is Starfire. The character goes from a kids Cartoon Network superhero in a full-length jumpsuit to a scantily clad, voluptuous version in the comic Red Hood and the Outlaws. This Starfire is shown in a barely there bikini or the equivalent of pasties over her breasts and a thong. "Do you want to have sex?" she says propositioning her boyfriend's pal, and later says, "Love has nothing to do with it."

Oh, agreed! I don't know why they couldn't have just stuck her original portrayal:

I much preferred her as an unwilling sex-slave of sadistic slavering masters. This whole independent woman with an uppity "Down With Love" attitude approach? It sends the wrong message.

It is these kind of images and suggestive language that concern Bernstein.

"It's a misrepresentation of reality. It sends the wrong message," he said.

It's true, it is a misrepresentation of reality; few comic book readers are going to have voluptuous, scantily clad women asking them for one-night stands. Particularly alien princesses. I can honestly say it has never happened to me!

Relationships are portrayed as one night stands with rampant promiscuity. The treatment of women is more misogynistic.

"We want our kids to think sex is an act between two consenting mature individuals who care deeply for one another. That doesn't really come across and it's too easily to misconstrue things particularly for a kid," Bernstein said.

Sigh. We all miss Jim Corrigan.

The changes to DC comics appear to mirror the changes on the big screen. Remember the original Batman TV series? The superhero defeated the villains without a drop of blood shed. Fake punches came with a "Kapow" across the screen. Compare that to 2008’s Batman: The Dark Knight. In the comic world, that sells.

Indeed; any pre-New52 hero worth his salt knew how to do it tastefully:

snap their necks. Just as fatal as decapitation, but less blood. Saves on red ink, too. Kids need to know that being a criminal--and fighting them-- can be a clean and pleasant experience for everyone, including any bystanders watching.

"I think they're definitely trying to push the envelope, get people's attention with it," said Jared Smith, President of Big Planet Comics.

He sells hundred of titles at his Vienna, Va. comic book store, some for adults, some for kids. The re-launch of DC Comics he says drew a lot of attention. Sales surged for the new editions. A lot was driven by the hype, but sales he says have since leveled off. Many liked what they saw, but some turned off fans stopped buying.

"It made a lot of people unhappy with it or it was something they just didn't want to read," Smith said.

Important point, Sherri! I'm sure the reason that most of fans were unhappy was because Starfire was underclad, rather than, say, that DC invalidated most of the continuity they'd had spend the last thirty years patiently reading and paying for. Because, heaven knows, if it weren't for Starfire's overt sexuality ruining it, I'm sure I'd be an avid follower of Red Hood and the Outlaws.

These types of changes seem to be cyclical with comics to drive up sales. Smith says DC Comics had fallen behind its main rival Marvel and wanted to make a big change. In the last five years, he said DC Comics has gone from a more "lighthearted" comic that is "fun adventure for everyone" to one that is "much more violent, and in some cases, much more graphic in the violence."

I agree, Sherri, completely with your decision to point out that DC is only turning "darker" to keep up with Marvel, which is relentlessly grim with wife-beater Henry Pim, alcoholic man-whore Tony Stark, and obvious repressed-homosexual Dr Doom. But I also agree with your decision to focus only on DC's shortcomings and ignore Marvel's, whose big-budget movie success for 20th Century Fox are probably part of what is making Fox News criticism of DC Comics possible.

DC Comics was contacted for the story, but would not discuss its reasons for the re-launch or the content of its books. In a presentation, Smith says DC Comics "described what they were trying to do was to boost their sales, but they also wanted to bring back some old readers who may not read comics anymore, but also attract new people who have never read comics."

Based on his sales, Smith says the company was successful at getting lapsed readers to come back, but not necessarily bring in new comic fans.

DC Comics uses a voluntary rating system, like others in the industry. It serves as a guideline for buyers and there is no requirement that stores enforce it. The racier more graphic comics are rated teen (T) or teen plus (T+). That means they are not meant for young kids to read.

Middle schoolers who saw the comics had mixed reaction on the age appropriateness of the images. "There's a lot of sexual activity," Diego Meneses said immediately after looking at an edition of Catwoman. Under the guidelines, Catwoman's rating is T+. Meneses said you should be at least 16 years old to read it.

Look, I'm 100% on your side, Sherri; so, just one word to the wise: probably not a good idea to make a 12 year-old read something labelled by its publisher as "for ages 16 and up". Oh, and don't take little Diego to see "The Exorcist" or "Deep Throat".

Marguerita Garcia's jaw dropped when she took one look at the comics. "Scary," she said.

Garcia has an 11-year-old daughter who likes to read comics.

As in Archie & Veronica? Or as in Punisher War Journal? I think specifics will really help us make our case, Sherri!

She says parents need to be aware of what their kids are watching and reading. As for these comics, she said "I think it's too much even for 15."

I know! It's very disturbing and frustrating! If only publishers had a simple convenient labeling system for indicating that a book isn't for any 15 or younger!

Another 12-year-old didn't flinch at the images in Batman Detective Comics with the Joker's bloody head pinned to the wall.

Now, Sherri! Let's not overact, as that could undercut our case. That's not the Joker's head, just the skin peeled of from his face. As a comic book expert, you should be a little more particular about what qualifies as decapitation.

"It looks pretty awesome. It has a lot of colors … It's pretty creepy to look at, but not too much," he said.

Hm. One of those is gross. The other is terrifying. Your mileage may vary.

The content of the teen and teen plus rated comics seem contradictory to the audience targeted by the advertising inside. The images of bloodied bodies and sex scenes are accompanied by ads for Legos and milk.

I agrees; it's kind of sad really. Given the bloodied bodies and sex scenes, some ads like these would work much better:

"Why are we advertising for little kids in a comic book that's rated for mature teens? What's wrong with this?" asked Dr. Bernstein.

It's an interesting point! I just assume it's because in current society mature teens are the people most likely to have little kids.

At Big Planet Comics, Smith points parents who come looking to the kids section. The more mature DC Comics he tells them are not for young readers.

"There was definitely a shift on some of them towards a much more R-rated type of comic book," Smith said.

Don't expect that to change. DC comics is banking this is the future

Oh, and the past, too!

Read more:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scipio reads the Solicits

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
1:25 Variant cover by MIKE CHOI
1:200 B&W Variant cover by JIM LEE
On sale APRIL 18 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
In the five years that the Justice League has been a team, Green Arrow has never once been a member. And he intends to rectify that right here, right now! One member against his candidacy: Aquaman!
Plus, in “The Curse of Shazam” part 2, Billy arrives in his new foster home just as an ancient evil is uncovered halfway across the world.
This issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

ZOMG, cannot wait to watch Johns's Aquaman dissing Green Arrow. Or just punching him in the quiver.


Written by DAN JURGENS
On sale APRIL 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The plan was for the JLI was to be installed as Earth’s official protective team. But once Breakdown attacked, that all came to a swift and sudden end. Now, as the pall of death and injury hang over the team, all that matters is survival. Featuring the introduction of a surprise new team member!

Well, that's cheery. Now with 63% less 'bwahaha' than the next leading brand. Isn't it vaguely odd that JLA should be funnier than JLI? And a surprise new team member? I assume this will be Vibe, whose appearance in the N52 is overdue. Perhaps this time he'll actually be from Puerto Rico. Or Tenerife. There's a LOT of dancing on Tenerife.

(Previous interior art shown)

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
1:25 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale APRIL 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Part 2 of “The Other League”! As a deadly hunter continues his murderous quest for the Atlantean trident, an unknown chapter of Aquaman’s life is revealed! Before he was a part of the Justice League, Aquaman was Arthur, the man from Atlantis, and leader of a mysterious team of adventurers. Armed with weapons forged in Aquaman’s past, these men and women were on their way to becoming the most powerful people on Earth – until it all came crashing down.

Deadly hunter = ... the Fisherman? Let's hope so. A mysterious team of adventurers = ... the Sea Devils? NEPTUNE PLEASE let it be the Sea Devils.


Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
1:25 B&W Variant cover by CLIFF CHIANG
On sale APRIL 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
To march on Hell itself, you’re going to need some sensational weapons – and Wonder Woman intends to call in a few family favors to get them! Armor of Hephaestus? Check. The pistols of Eros? Check! But will any of it be enough to wrest an innocent soul from the grasp of Hades? And what does Hermes know that Diana doesn’t…yet?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA, Wonder Woman pulls a Punisher pose with the Pistols of Eros; "Eat hot desire from my love gun, suckers!" This is automatically one of the greatest covers of all time. Kudos unto Azzarello for realizing that the Olympians aren't Amish and, just as in the ancient world, their appearances and tools would reflect the current state of humanity.


Variant cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
1:200 B&W Variant cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
On sale APRIL 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The Flash gets pulled into the Speed Force that gives him his super-speed powers…and he learns he’s not alone in there! Introducing Turbine, a prisoner of the Speed Force who just wants out – even if it means trading places with The Flash!

THANK MERCURY for new Flash villains. I am SO sick of the Rogues.


Written by J.T. KRUL
Cover by MIKE CHOI
On sale APRIL 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Ever since a tragic accident turned him into the ├╝berpowerful Captain Atom, Nathaniel Adam has wanted nothing more than to connect and relate to the people around him again. But coming face-to-face with a future version of himself is not what he had in mind! What is the meaning for this strange encounter? What impending doom is the future Captain Atom trying to avoid? And what exactly is the timestream?!

My only real question is when Captain Atom meets himself is he as bored by him as we are?


Art and cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale APRIL 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Jason Rusch rockets to Europe to thwart the next Rogue attack, only to find that other Firestorms have beaten him to it! Introducing the all-new Firehawk, France’s own atomic defender, and Hurricane, Great Britain’s officially sanctioned Nuclear Man! Meanwhile, out of the ashes of last issue’s shocking climax, Ronnie Raymond and the Russian Firestorm, Pozhar, begin a long, mutual descent toward the dark underbelly of the Firestorm Protocols. New cowriter Joe Harris (Ghost Projekt) continues this acclaimed series with superstar artist Ethan Van Sciver, who provides another stunning issue of full interior art!

Um... Firestorm, Inc.? Really, ONE Firestorm is bad enough, DC; settle down.


Written by ANN NOCENTI
On sale APRIL 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Part two of a three-part story introducing new creative team of Ann Nocenti and Harvey Tolibao!
Green Arrow faces off against the enraged father of three beautiful sisters, which might not seem so unusual for Ollie until you add in the part about being trapped in a frozen tundra with a horde of bloodthirsty, mutating animals. Things aren’t what they seem as Green Arrow must race to uncover the truth about this “family” before he becomes a monster snack – or a frozen corpse!

Ladies and gentlemen, Oliver Queen starring in... "The Hangover" III.


Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale APRIL 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T • FINAL ISSUE
Guest-starring The Blackhawks! It’s Mister Terrific vs. the technological monstrosity called Digitus – and to destroy his greatest foe yet, Michael may be forced to destroy Holt Industries! But as one enemy is defeated, another rises from a shocking source: the U.S. Government! Also, betrayal rocks Mister Terrific’s life when he discovers that his ex-girlfriend, the mysterious Karen Starr, may be more than she seems.

The Blackhawks? Mister Terrific? Karen Starr? The U.S. Government? Hey, it's Cancelled Comics Cavalcade!


Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale APRIL 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
As more and more of the Challengers of the Unknown are killed in action, the remaining few must press ahead on their quest! They have to uncover the secret behind the talismans they’ve been collecting before Ace and the spirits from the Well of Souls can finish the job that started with the plane crash!

"As more and more of the Challengers of the Unknown are killed in action"... now THAT is about the only Challengers comic I can imagine enjoying.


Art and cover by PHILIP TAN
On sale APRIL 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Hawkman has a violent encounter with a past adversary: the beautiful alien shapeshifter Askana, who once tried to kill him! But his time she needs his help, claiming that agents from her homeworld have tracked her to Earth to terminate her. How can Hawkman trust her – or help her?

Why do I get the feeling that Hawkman's past has a lot more going for it than his future?