Tag Archives: DC Comics

DC’s The Flintstones

“Yabba dabba doo.”

Hey, all, D.C. here, and I think it’s time to discuss a series after enough reads. Up today is DC Comics The Flintstones, by the creative team of Mark Russell and Steve Pugh.

When DC Comics decided to come out with an updated version of The Flintstones, the child in me couldn’t help but be intrigued. How would this be done? How would these iconic and classic characters be portrayed? What would the tone be?

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What is The Flintstones?

…If you don’t know what The Flintstones is…then you have missed something out of your childhood. It is one of the most iconic Hanna-Barbara brands ever, debuting in the ’60s and born in the same vein as the classic sitcom The Honeymooners. If you haven’t watched it…WATCH IT.

For the sake of time, I won’t address Steve Pugh’s art, which is very good. I will focus on Russell’s take.

Story?

Satire is the name of the game with The Flintstones.

Mark Russell takes a classic cartoon series and turns it on its head with an adequate modern adaptation. Written in an episodic fashion, Russell makes note of various things that are considered beneficial, yet also can breed foolishness, in our society today. Stabs are taken at innovation of technology–particularly of appliances–that can make our lives easier, yet make us more and more materialistic. Fred deals with the pressures of purchasing such costly and faulty items.

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Religion was touched on in a comedic and intriguing fashion, and again mirroring what happens now. People always want to belong somewhere, no matter how outrageous a religion or cult’s tenants appear.

Surprisingly, the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo is portrayed as a fraternity of war veterans, both of whom Fred and Barney share membership. It is a rough issue that touches on the lack of appreciation the society gives to those survivors who suffer.

At times, Russell’s satire is hilarious. Other times, it’s insight. Many times, however, it can be scathing, almost showing a disdain for our current society and its hypocrisy regarding religion, veteran care, news, elections, marriage, bullying, science, and simple human decency. There isn’t a moment this series isn’t provocative.

One last note: character development. Russell has done a superb job dabbing into the backgrounds of Fred, Wilma, and even how Bamm-Bamm was adopted by the Rubbles (a very insightful and emotional issue).Related image

Cast?

The cast is all there, which is always a good thing, and they are all portrayed very well. You can’t have The Flintstones without the big four–Fred, Wilma, Betty, and Barney–their children, Dino, and good ol’ Mr. Slate. Even the Great Gazoo shows up in issue #3, but how it comes about is very different and interesting.

One of the most commendable efforts I’d seen from Mark Russell is the background history in some of these characters that, in their own ways, answers lingering questions from the TV show itself, in addition to establishing this revisionist history.

Fred, simply put, is a shell of a man. He’s nothing like the boisterous caveman with anger issues seen from the cartoon show. Fred is neutered, but why? We see just why when the answer to his and Barney’s time as war veterans is addressed. It is reminiscent of how some vets return from war that is emotionally or physically traumatic, or any war they find themselves used as pawns in. It is in one of the meetings with war veterans that we see the origin and meaning of Fred’s catchphrase, “Yabba dabba doo.” It is nothing bombastic, but all very appropriate.

Still, Russell continually excels at showing that, despite his submissive personality, Fred is a righteous and courageous man at heart with a strong moral character in a crowd of selfish, complacent, and ignorant people.

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One of the better parts in the beginning of the series was Russell’s dabbing in Wilma’s background history and her life being the reasons behind her optimism and artistic choices. It’s something I never expected from Russell, but he made Wilma even more endearing to me. Conversely, next to nothing has been given of Wilma’s best friend, the equally vivacious Betty Rubble, but I hope that is something Russell will address in time.

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It is hard to believe, but Fred’s boss Mr. Slate is even more reprehensible under Russell’s penmanship. Slate is as selfish and flippant as they come in The Flintstones. Frustratingly, Russell writes minute moments where we see hints of Slate’s loneliness or some sort of humility in his actions; those moments are quickly dashed with a word by Slate. It makes me want to hate Slate even more, and for that, I commend Russell’s handling of the character.

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The series is still young, and I am still waiting for Russell to develop the teenage Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, as well as Betty, Dino and the Great Gazoo. The possibility of an extended cast beyond the originals would add a little more spice to this series.

Verdict?

If you haven’t dabbled in DC’s The Flintstones yet, please do. Mark Russell does an incredible job revitalizing the classic characters while addressing a plethora of topics pertinent to our social climate. Whether you think them controversial, progressive, scathing, or biased, you cannot ignore that they are both provocative and thought-provoking, and worthy of discourse after you finish each issue.

END THROWDOWN.

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Superman: Super Monster

“And sometimes one is simply one.”

Hej hej, all. This is D.C. back from a long hiatus (read: My day job kept me extremely swamped).

Kay and I had spent the last month reading and collecting comics and films. While our eyes viewed many, few stuck out that garnered an extensive review. That has changed in the last couple of weeks, so the first of many throwdowns will be the two-part storyline in Superman, Super Monster.

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Is this YOUR Superman?

For many, yes. This may be DC Comics’ New 52/Rebirth era, but this appears to be the pre-Flashpoint era Kal-El, here to fill the void left by the New 52 Superman’s death. With wife Lois Lane and son Jonathan (Superboy), Superman continues to find his place in this unfamiliar world, complicated by the ominous presence of Mr. Oz.

Superman’s saga continues in Superman #12-13, which covered the Super Monster arc, with the review focused on issue #13.

Highlights

Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (who’ve worked together on Green Lantern Corps) write a fast-paced tale that has just about everything: a seemingly-ordinary  day for Lois Lane; a fun and satisfying scuffle between Superman and S.H.A.D.E. agent Frankenstein; and an appropriate resolution to a short arc. Even Lois got a small spotlight taking a shot at the arc’s antagonist. Tomasi and Gleason’s inclusion of both Frankenstein and his Bride and their emotional baggage in this arc worked out very well without overstaying their welcome.

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The strongest dialogue by Tomasi and Gleason here was rooted in the poetic exchanges between Frankenstein and the Bride, which oozed animosity, love lost, and even a bittersweet and pained longing that is apparent in both characters. It’s complicated and very relatable. The most impactful line was near the end of issue #13, where the dead Frankenstein confesses his very human feelings to his former Bride. Her response and his reaction cuts hard and deep.

Doug Mahnke’s art, aided by bright and vibrant colors (why so many colorists for one issue?), works well for the most part. The emotive responses related to each character went well with the script, even the nuances etched in the dull, dead faces of Frankenstein and the Bride.

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I hadn’t been very pleased with this Superman series–particularly with regards to Jonathan and the depiction of the Eradicator–but Super Monster was a very good arc.

Some issues I had, though…

Lowlights

Tomasi and Gleason seemed to be confused with regard to the fugitive warlord Kroog. There were repeated alternations between identifying Kroog as male or female. Why? There’s no indication that Kroog is a shapeshifter of nebulous gender. I’m not sure if Tomasi and Gleason were trying to imply the fluid gender, or were confused themselves in the depiction of Kroog.

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Getting a little touchy there, Supes…

The Bride’s exchange with Lois was a bit off when it came to explaining the death of hers and Frankenstein’s son. The Bride explicitly stated, with regards to her son:

“We tracked him down in Europe, where he was wreaking death and destruction.”

Yet two panels later, the Bride says:

“…And I killed him before he could kill others.”

Perhaps I’m being a bit pedantic, but…how does one stop one from killing, if he was already wreaking DEATH and destruction already? It’s a small thing, but it was, to me, no less inconsistent.

While the dialogue between Frankenstein and the Bride was emotional and potent, I do feel that Tomasi and Gleason missed a golden opportunity to bring that dialogue back into the the thoughts and actions of Superman and his feelings towards both Lois and Jonathan. There was no introspection on Superman’s part, no thoughts on the meaning of his allies’ relationship, and how fragile and easily breakable his own family is. Without that introspection, even in caption form, the last several panels lack any real impact to me, other than hammering the point that this version of Superman and his family is “perfect” for DC’s Rebirth initiative.

Hammering “perfection” isn’t moving, and really did diminish the full effect I desired.

Recap

The Super Monster arc in Superman was a quick, isolated team-up tale that was both effective and exciting. While it didn’t serve a specific “goal” towards the overall events of Rebirth, it was a good filler that reacquainted Superman with more characters.

There was some blips in Tomasi and Gleason’s writing, particularly with regard to antagonist Kroog and the full emotional takeaway of the arc, but it was a satisfying read.

END THROWDOWN.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7

My god…a month? A whole month of not writing? I’m upset at myself for not providing you with any throwdowns–but adult life (and the LA Comic Con!) got in the way of writing.

Enough excuses. It’s a new month, and it’s time to get to it. First pick, DC’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7.

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(You’d be surprised how long it took to wait for a properly-sized picture to be available for use.)

Highlights

As I’ve stated before, I’ve been a fan of Robert Venditti since Valiant’s X-O Manowar revival. I know he has a knack for superhero sci-fi epics. I enjoyed his Rebirth run so far because of his strong characterizations (especially of Hal, Sinestro, and Guy Gardner), but I had more problems with this issue than I thought I would.

One character confused me throughout this starting arc: Lyssa Drak.

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She did debut as a Sinestro Corps member some years ago, but her allegiances have been dubious and in outright opposition to even Sinestro. Why is she back with the corps, let alone bumping uglies with Sinestro? Or rather, why is Sinestro porking her? Her entire being screams traitor, and I had difficulty wrapping my head around the logic behind Sinestro keep her around the team and in his bed. Perhaps I missed that from not having read the Sinestro series, or Venditti’s last run of Green Lantern.

Well, she is very alluring, I’d admit. Until you see her teeth.

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I did feel the “final” battle between Sinestro and Hal fell flat in a way. Issue #6 ended with Sinestro consuming the fear entity Parallax and leveling up even more using the Fear Engine. The effect? A power-up. Nothing more. No epic transformation in conjunction with the absorption of Parallax. Nothing out of the ordinary with charging his ring well over 2000%.

I was disappointed that nothing visually stimulating came from such a staggering power-up. Even worse is that the fact that Hal is becoming will itself wasn’t touched on as Hal easily defeated Sinestro. That alone sets up questions: how much will does Hal have, if such a thing can be quantified? Why was he, becoming will but not completely will, so easily able to destroy an entity-infused Sinestro, even with his Fear Engine power-up diminished?

The emotional entities are often depicted as the personifications of emotions. Did Sinestro limit his access to Parallax, or did his consumption of Parallax somehow have an adverse effect? These should have been alluded to in some form, because it makes one wonder just what that means for the other color corps. More importantly, what powers can one who is becoming emotion access, and are those powers specific to each emotion?

How does one become emotion?

Oomph. That sounds like rich stories for DC there. Here’s hoping these things get addressed in later arcs.

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The art does a great job of adding to the epic nature of this series. Rafa sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey mix their pencils, inks, and colors in fantastic fashion. It really feels like you’re reading a sci-fi hero book with its luminous detail, especially during Hal and Sinestro’s battle.

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Recap

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #7 gives a fair conclusion to the first arc. However several questions go unanswered in lieu of a battle that is visually great, if not somewhat neutered. Still, this creative team did a very good job in the first arc. I hope that the emotional spectrum’s seemingly evolving nature will be delved upon more, in light of Hal’s own evolution. And that Hal will finally meet with his corps again!

END THROWDOWN.

DC Rebirth at a Glance

Hey, all, this D.C. back for a throwdown. No, we’ll call this more of a rant-fest.

I had a discussion with Kay recently about how I wanted to discuss my feelings on DC’s latest revamp, Rebirth. It’s been about 4 months since DC decided to try and salvage the stink many people felt regarding the New 52 initiative, and the lackluster response from the DCYou after ConvergenceI wanted Kay, who’s far less experienced with comics and with DC Comics in general, to give her own take as well. But then today, I saw that Newsrama beat me to the punch.

Damn Newsrama.

While I agreed with a couple of the staff’s grades, I disagreed with others, so I will still give my own insight on my feelings, what DC’s latest change left me with, and what could be points of improvement.

Action Comics

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When the Rebirth version of Action Comics was first proposed, I was both turned off and curious about Lex Luthor being a primary character in this. I really displeased with the prior Superman taking over again as a whole because of the sheer implication of “going backwards,” “going back to basics,” “giving fans what they want,” or whatever platitude or patronizing term people choose to use. While I dislike Lex Luthor as a character, I was intrigued by seeing him trying to live up to his unearned role as a Superman.

How would Lex step up? Could Lex step up and be something bigger than his ego? Who are his supporters and dissenters?  Could the old Superman help him understand what responsibilities come with the “S” of the Superman family?How will we see him fail? In what ways will we see him triumph and actually surpass Superman?

What I go out of the first arc didn’t come close to touching on any of this. And even if there were, any question was quickly subverted by the appearance of Doomsday. I wasn’t aware that I was this Rebirth was going to feature another tired, desperate battle with Superman’s killer. Was this Action Comics, or was this Death of Superman all over again?

The introduction of a powerless Clark Kent threw in an interesting element, but as stated in the Newsrama article, there really was too much introduced in too short a time.

I was even more disappointed in Lex Luthor essentially becoming a background character to the old Superman. There was too little justice given to Lex for this played out battle.

And don’t let me get started on Wonder Woman hammering home that Lois and Clark being together is more fitting than hers and the recently-deceased New 52 Superman. That was hard pandering there.

Cyborg

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When I read the first volume of the New 52 Cyborg series, I was pleased by the evolution in Cyborg’s character, and in the evolution of his abilities and cybernetic nature.

Two issues into Cyborg’s Rebirth, and I found John Semper, Jr.’s take on Cyborg not compelling at all. For one, the upgrades to Cyborg’s power set are all but forgotten–already an egregious move when no reason is given. It would’ve been nice to see Cyborg still adjusting to those upgrades, instead of the same, tired moments of his questioning his humanity or whether he has a soul. As many times as Victor Stone has questioned that, even in New 52, you would think he’d come to terms in ways that he can move past that. It would also be nice to see him have a more extensive rogues gallery that didn’t have a focus on technological threats. Some, of course, but that shouldn’t be the norm for him.

Supergirl

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Supergirl has become one of the more unexpected books I liked. It may help that I have little experience with the character as a whole, but I have enjoyed the sense of realism and relatability given to this advanced alien character who is forced to adjust to primitive life on Earth. Getting in touch with humanity is an old trope in comics, but it serves an honest purpose for Kara Zor-El. While the DEO’s overall purpose in Rebirth does not seem to have been fleshed out as well, I do look forward to this title developing, and how Supergirl and the DEO could tie in to the events that caused Rebirth in the first place.

 

Aquaman

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Aquaman has easily been the biggest surprise to me. The character had always been derided, both in comics and among comic readers. Seen as a very limited character, I was curious to see how Dan Abnett can run with the character in Rebirth. I loved how Abnett addressed how the public makes fun of Aquaman in the Rebirth issue (mirror by many comments in real life).

I have been very pleased with Arthur’s efforts at diplomacy with a very distrusting and somewhat conniving and controlling government (isn’t that how the U.S. is always seen?). Aquaman has his work cut out for him on his path to uniting his two worlds. How he rise up against xenophobes, subversives and government all remain to be seen with bated breath.

 

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey

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I will make a confession: I could not finish the Rebirth issue of this book. Julie and Shawna Benson do a great job writing what I’d read so far. Batgirl’s introspection was well-written, if not already beaten to death in the years since New 52.

It’s the art. Claire Roe’s art is just atrocious, and every character is penciled hideously. Batgirl’s facial expressions are awful, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It was so bad that it was distracting.

It took me days to finish Starbrand and Nightmask just because of its terrible art. I know it willtake me just as long to get through this singular issue. I can’t continue this series with art like that.

I also wasn’t clear just one what this book would be about before picking up the series, which left me with more issues. Beyond this hunt for a villainous Oracle, where is this book supposed to go? How is it supposed to fit into the cause and theme of Rebirth, beyond “let’s push old series again?”

Nightwing

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This series was already off to a bad start with me by way of Dick Grayson going back to the role of Nightwing. The first arc of his series proved why: Nothing done required Dick  to be Nightwing to do it. Why, then, was he made to regress into this role? To play sidekick again? Even his Rebirth issue didn’t address that well to me.

The first arc did absolutely nothing to me in terms of enjoy Nightwing’s character. It just seemed to show he was too stuck in his ways, and that his current status only served as another way to prevent any relationship developing between Dick and Batgirl.

I don’t like regressions in a character, whether it be role or identity. Then again, I was an advocate of Dick staying as Batman, growing into the role, and developing his own rogues gallery. In many ways, I feel the concept of the Court of Owls arc would have had greater impact with Grayson as the Batman.

The Flash

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If there were ever a disappointing series in Rebirth, it is The Flash. As a forensic person, I was looking forward to seeing the series have a greater focus on Barry Allen’s forensic mind and how he can use that to combat crime.

What I got was a series that lacks is focus and direction. Badly written with bad logic–from Barry revealing his identity to S.T.A.R. Labs employee Meena after a kiss, to his severe lack of focus on his personal life and career–anyone who’s read Spider-Man knows that NO character who focuses more on heroics can hold down a job…how does Barry expect to keep his own?

Even his focus on teaching the growing amount of speedsters had little meaning. No focus on any of the new speedsters means that we don’t see much of an interaction between teacher and student…no development on the Flash as a teacher. Or were we not supposed to?

The first arc was just fragmented, disappointing, and lacked any sense of logic. Even though I’m excited for anti-hero the Shade returning, I can’t say I’ll continue this book.

Superman

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Kay and I have differing opinions on this, I think. She was more receptive towards Peter Tomasi’s take on Superman training his son’s developing powers than I was. I’m wary of this series, because it just screams “paranoid parent of superpowered, irresponsible child who’ll get found out.” Which, unfortunately, didn’t take long to happen. I was a bit disappointed with how the Eradicator was handled, because I was hoping for a new Kryptonian ally in this alien world.

Still, this series has massive potential, and Mr. Oz’s meddling can make this series more intriguing.

 

 

Superwoman

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It’s only two issues in, but I’m still mixed on my feelings about Superwoman. I was receptive towards two Superwomen with two very different power sets working together, but after the end of the first issue (already surprising on its own), I’m left confused: were the solicitations of this series about Lois’s powers killing her, or Lana’s? I feel I was tricked, and I’m glad I was.

If this Lois returns, I would be pleased, because that could introduce some very interest questions regarding the nature of her new powers. I just hope this isn’t another ploy at removing a character in the same manner as New 52’s Superman.

 

Justice League

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Another disappointment. In the aftermath of the Darkseid War, I would have expected the first arc to, or even the Rebirth issue, to have a bigger focus on reorganization and reevaluation of the team–especially after the removal of Luthor and Shazam from the team. At least I would’ve expected something than just a look at Superman. Perhaps that would have been a better arc than what was presented.

I need to catch up on Darkseid War, but…is there no long-term consequence from that long arc, or was everything just smoothed over? I would have expected something of that magnitude to have the Justice League take a look at themselves and what they can do to be proactive or better equipped to handle large scale threats.

This first arc just seemed like things were happening without proper buildup. Just…event after event. I’ve yet to read the fifth issue, but Brian Hitch’s take on the premier DC team hasn’t gone off to a good start.

If anything, Hitch wrote Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz far better than the writer of their duo series…

Green Lanterns

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Sam Humphries has done a grave disservice on this series. Just like Justice League, Green Lanterns’ first arc failed to have proper buildup and just had things happen. Worse, it had too many things happening and being introduced out of nowhere. I don’t understand how Simon Baz can have some unknown ability called Emerald Sight, and how that can change a Red Lantern to normal in a non-fatal manner.

Humphries’ use of millennial references with Jessica is infuriating. Why would she rather be playing with Pokemon than fighting the Red Lanterns? What possessed Humphries to even write that out? Just because Pokemon Go’s been in style? Give me a break. Write like you’re writing a story, not a meme.

What is this Red Dawn that Atrocitus had an urge to start, and why on Earth? So much was left undeveloped, and the artist renditions of these characters leaves much to be desired. I’m not sure why the artists are having a problem drawing Jessica Cruz with irises.

I’ve already touched on my opinion of Green Arrow and Blue Beetle. I am hopeful of BatmanHal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and have little love overdone “hope and optimism” of The Titans. I haven’t read Batgirl, Suicide Squad, Deathstroke, or Teen Titans for various reasons. While I’ve had some pleasant surprises, I’ve found DC Rebirth more of a disappointment than a pleasure.

Enough Whining…

Okay, so…what would I have liked in Rebirth going forward?

  1. For one, I would have enjoyed progression. Actual, honest progression that moved further away from regression of “going back to basics.” Would Mr. Oz’s meddling have less impact with the New 52 Superman? Could Jaime Reyes find out the secrets of his scarab without Ted Kord in the mix? Could any of these stories progress with the Wildstorm characters included, beyond Midnighter and Apollo? That depends on the writer. That is an important thing to take note.Perhaps DC has failed at carrying new material with them. How else can we have such a strong move towards a “back to basics” approach?
  2. Much better development. I’m getting that so far out of New Super-Man (another surprising like), but that’s because the character is both new and a jackass. Kenan Kong has substantial room for growth and development. Development is difficult with characters with such lengthy history, but hopefully DC will move to newer elements with all the characters and let that have as much prominence as they give “going back to basics.”
  3. More Wildstorm and Vertigo characters. Since DC claims the Rebirth world is still New 52 (combination of DC, Wildstorm, and Vertigo universes), then we should still see these characters. Midnighter and Apollo are not enough, and I’d sooner say they’re only included because they’re a gritty twist on the gay couple. Neither is Hellblazer all of Vertigo. What about Grifter, the daemonites, Dream, Spartan or Majestic, Hawskmoor, a new WildC.A.T.s group? Something to spice up Rebirth beyond nostalgia with compelling antagonists.
  4. KEEP THE CONTINUITY IN CHECK. It’s bad enough that DC tried its hand at the “loose continuity” plan with the DCYou. If the company seeks to solidify things and bring back this or that, then a better handle on character history is a must. It’s bad enough that co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee gave a lazy explanation to how they’ll handle any continuity issues:“I mean, when you have 75 to 80 years’ worth of publishing behind you, every story can’t have the same weight or matter in continuity. Every story cannot be as canon as the others…Things will unravel as we go forward. Some things will be explained and some things will probably be left hanging.

I don’t approve of their “we’ll leave it up to the reader to make up their own continuity” excuse in lieu of making a sound decision on what is or isn’t part of the mainstream history. DC is known for this, and it was still an issue in New 52/Rebirth. Point: How can 10 years be taken from the universe as a whole, when Batman and Green Lantern still have their entire histories intact–which already didn’t make sense in the 5-year span of New 52?

All in all…I’d like some progression. If DC is going to grab fans, they need to make sure they can keep them with something good. A long endgame with Dr. Manhattan and the Watchmen–long–may not be sustainable alone. They need to make better decisions in how they weave the stories and continuity, and not ride on nostalgia.

It’ll only carry so far.

Okay, it’s time to get back to reading better things.
END RANT-FEST!

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Supergirl #1

“I will always be a strange visitor.”

Hey, all. This is D.C. here to throw down some on DC’s Supergirl #1, which starts off the “Reign of the Cyborg Supermen” arc.

I was impressed by the Supergirl: Rebirth, so I was optimistic about how the creative team will take things.

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Highlights

In terms of action, not much actually happens in Supergirl #1. In some ways, it reiterates some of what already happened in the Rebirth issue.

Still, writer Steve Orlando does a great job emphasizing the division Kara Zor-El feels between her old utopian life on Krypton, versus the difficulty, noise, and primitiveness of Earth life. I laughed at Orlando’s portrayal of Supergirl’s adjustment issues, because it reminds me of adult life: the more knowledge and technical skills you’ve amassed, sometimes you find difficulty performing or solving even rudimentary tasks. Kara’s problems were very relatable.

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More than that, Orlando excelled at showing how this dichotomy affects Kara. She’s tormented: she’s an orphan (for all intents and purposes), having lost her life, prestige, and culture, stuck on a world that she can’t relate to in any fashion. Even her foster parents/handler’s attempts to make Kara feel any semblance of home falls flat. It was a great series of points that shows that Kara has so many hurdles to endure before she can be the heroine she aspires to be.

Penciler Brian Ching’s emotive cues on the characters work very, very well with Orlando’s script to make the characters dynamic.

Lowlights

Compared with Emanuela Lupacchino’s art from the Rebirth issue, I did not find Brian Ching’s art a welcome change. At times, Ching’s art flip-flopped between what would fit with a superhero comic, to far too sketch-like and lacking sufficient detail. The pencils are almost too sharp, too simple, and childish for my tastes–at least so far as my expectations from the last issue to this. The inconsistencies bothered me more often than not.

But again, Ching still manages to capture the emotion in Orlando’s writing when dealing with the cast…even Cameron Chase’s stiff and stoic demeanor.

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I have the same issues regarding colorist Michael Atiyeh. Some of the time I felt the colors given were plain. Still, he could capture a striking set of colors when Supergirl travels in space. Perhaps this is an intentional point towards the dichotomy in this issue? If so, then Atiyeh deserves much more credit than I’m giving.

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Recap

In some ways I’m torn by this premier issue of Supergirl. This one of those times where the writing very much supersedes the art, and both are very important.

I much preferred Emanuela Lupacchino’s take on Supergirl, so Brian Ching’s inconsistent pencils did little for me. However, he captures Steve Orlando’s effective emotive cues with the characters effectively that he gains more points than he loses. Still, this was a very worthwhile read.

Orlando’s taken Supergirl’s typical “lost daughter of Krypton” motif and really knows how to hammer home Kara’s emotions and loss, and the fact that Kara believes that she has little to be optimistic about. She is still trying to find her place in the DC universe, and I think she’s in good hands with Steve Orlando.

END THROWDOWN.

Supergirl: Rebirth

“…This time I will do better.”

Hello, hello, this is D.C. here to throw down on one of DC’s Rebirth titles I bought on a chance:

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I admit, I thought this cover of Supergirl: Rebirth was pretty silly and out of character, but I digress…

A Foreword Complaint…

I have given many books in DC’s Rebirth line a shot, and my honest opinion…I’ve not been very impressed. I know the vocal crowd has been more than pleased with DC’s backtracking to fix its “mistakes” with the New 52, but I like progression in my fiction:

  • I’m not excited at all that Dick Grayson is Nightwing. Again. I actually preferred he’d stayed as Batman.
  • I’m not charmed by the cheesiness of the Titans and their not-so-new lineup, fighting old villains. AGAIN.
  • I wasn’t pleased to see the first arc of Action Comics be a destructive and desperate battle between old Superman and Doomsday. AGAIN. Lex Luthor, even though I dislike him, was treated as more like a bystander than the main character he was supposed to be.
  • I did not need Green Arrow and Black Canary to be in any sort of relationship, nor his liberalism being beat to death. AGAIN.
  • The Flash? Don’t even get me started on the lackluster pacing and uninteresting first arc.
  • The art alone kept me from finishing both Batgirl and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.
  • I love the Justice League as a team, but the book just isn’t doing it for me at the moment. I feel it lacks excitement.
  • I was so very excited for Green Lanterns, but Sam Humphries’ pacing, lack of character development, and nonsense millennial writing with Jessica Cruz has soured the experience for me already. Jessica would rather play with her POKEMON than fight the Red Lanterns? Seriously?
  • I am most livid that Rebirth, which DC claims is still the New 52 continuity, has somehow forced the Wildstorm and Vertigo characters into limbo. It’s more apparent that DC is pushing more of the old stuff and ignoring the newer stuff, rather than simply incorporating the old elements. I don’t care that ONE miniseries is coming; Apollo and Midnighter aren’t the whole of Wildstorm. Same goes for Constantine and Vertigo.

I have enjoyed Batman and Detective Comics, both of which introduced new concepts and characters. Surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed Aquaman the most thus far.

My point is…I know that the two-party debate between Marvel and DC is classic for comic nerds. Fans will always praise one and damn the other. People are happy that DC is going “back to basics,” but I’m not one of them. I don’t believe going backwards equates to good story-telling. It’s a bit soon to say how Rebirth will go, but it’s really not off to a good start for me at all. I am hoping for better.

On the other hand, I felt better about buying Supergirl: Rebirth.

Highights

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed Supergirl. I hadn’t read much of New 52 Supergirl, but I hoped to get enough information to understand what was going to happen into Rebirth. How the heck did Kara Zor-El get wrapped up in the Department of Extranormal Operations? How was she going to get her powers back? What will this series be going forward?

Well, much of that was addressed in this issue quite succinctly by Steve Orlando. The manner in which Supergirl regained her powers was pretty believable, though I wish a more detailed explanation were given. Still, Supergirl comes back, strong and confident.

(In light of the DEO having a regeneration matrix…If the DEO could have one, this kind of goes against the Superman: Rebirth. I recall issue stating that the matrix didn’t exist in the New 52/Rebirth universe. Pre-Flashpoint Superman easily could’ve made one, since he was able to make his own Fortress of Solitude…Kinda makes you wonder about the consistency…)

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Orlando portrayed Supergirl well in my eyes. What’s most important to me is that this was Supergirl, not “a female version of Superman.” She was shown as a strong and courageous, yet hardened, woman. She was compassionate and dynamic during her brief tussle with Lar-On. I enjoyed Orlando’s presentation of Kara.

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Emanuela Lupacchino’s art was pretty good. Hers is certainly the best art from all the women artists I’ve viewed up to this point, and I love the strength she add gives to Supergirl to supplement Orlando’s script.

Recap

Supergirl: Rebirth gives me some optimism. I enjoyed this short story by Steve Orlando. He did a good job laying down the foundation for the series going forward: Supergirl, DEO agent and high schooler.

There are some things I hope for in the Supergirl series:

  1. It should tie in to the events that caused Rebirth in the first place. If Supergirl is going to be an agent of the DEO , then I expect to see her, Cameron Chase and the DEO converge somewhere with Batman’s, the Flash’s, and the Titans’ investigations.
  2. The difficulty Supergirl will have reconciling her Kryptonian upbringing with  both human and American culture. That’ll be even more interesting to her overall development.
  3. Cameron Chase is such a b****, so I want to see more of the dynamic between her and Supergirl.
  4. Of course, further meetups with the pre-Flashpoint Superman and his family. What can that Superman bring to her that the New 52 version couldn’t?

If  Orlando can address these all in authentic fashion (including building up on that ominous ending with the Cyborg Superman), I think this book will go very well.

END THROWDOWN.

Blue Beetle: Rebirth

“You’re playing with magic.”

Welcome all, this is D.C. here to throw down on my thoughts off DC’s Blue Beetle: Rebirth.

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Lesson!

In DC’s reboot-into-non-reboot Rebirth, the Blue Beetle is the identity shared by two people: Ted Kord, inventor and head of Kord Industries; and Jaime Reyes, whose body houses an apparently alien scarab that enables various technological abilities.

I’ve never been much of a Blue Beetle fan, but I’m more familiar with the characters prior to the New 52. Unfortunately, Ted Kord’s most known moment was his investigation that ended in his epic and simple death in the prelude to Infinite Crisis. 

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Bang…*sniff*

Highlights

This issue left me confused with Ted Kord’s appearance. The first and last time I saw Kord–the first and last time anyone saw him, perhaps–was during the Forever Evil event (a recommended read). Ted was college student at that time, and fairly youthful with an air of defiance in him. In DC Universe: Rebirth, Ted looks much older than he should. He looked a little too close to his pre-Flashpoint, pre-death incarnation for such a short time passing since Forever Evil.

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New 52 Ted…

 

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…into Rebirth Ted?

What I did like from the Rebirth one-shot was that Ted came off as somewhat disturbing. At least to me. He appeared to have an obsession and was in no effort to help Jaime with freeing himself from the scarab in his spine.

Fast forward to this issue, and I was left underwhelmed.

Writer Keith Giffen doesn’t pace what was supposed to be an introduction into the world of Blue Beetle very well. Giffen quickly and effectively relays the affection between Jaime and his family, but doesn’t give me any anticipation for the upcoming story. The two villains introduced (they appear more like hired thugs towards the end) were quirky, but it wasn’t anything that made me want to see more of them.

The relationship between Ted and Jaime is somewhat antagonistic, but beyond that, there’s not much I get from the protagonists of this series. Giffen tells why Reyes and Kord are working together in the first place–not that it hadn’t already been shared in Rebirth–but I’m still confused as to Ted’s personal motivations of heroism and with Reyes in particular. Again, in Ted’s last appearance, he wasn’t a hero before. Not that I know of, at least.

So…wouldn’t one need motivation for this change?

That simple thing would probably make this book more appealing. Nothing shown that makes me think, “Yeah, I want to see where this goes!”

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Another issue: Dr. Fate’s appearance. To be exact, Dr. Fate’s entrance is almost part and parcel to his appearance in the Rebirth one-shot. Now…if I wanted to see the same character make the same entrance, and say the same thing without anything new or interesting added, why would I want to waste money on this book? Those few panels were a complete waste.

That’s the biggest problem I had with this inaugural issue to Blue Beetle. It didn’t really tell me anything.

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I was left a bit iffy by the art done by  Scott Kolins and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing substantial. I liked how some of the character designs were done, but I really didn’t like many panels where Jaime was portrayed. He looked more cartoonish than a technological/alien wonder. I felt that Kolin’s pencils were inconsistent more often than not.

On the upside, I enjoyed Fajardo’s coloring. There’s not much I have to say there. It simply worked for the feel of the book.

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Cartoon Blue Beetle…

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…and cool Blue Beetle

Recap

I didn’t have many good feelings about Blue Beetle: Rebirth. It feels like Keith Giffen rushed this story, introducing characters without much impact, quirky but underwhelming villains, a vague threat, a vaguely fleshed-out relationship between Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes, and a rushed introduction of Dr. Fate that really was done before.

Nothing about this introduced anything of particular interest. If not for the fact that the magical aspects of the scarab , there would be absolutely nothing about this series that would compel me to stick with it. Even then, I’m not sure I will invest. Time and money will tell.

END THROWDOWN.

Identity Crisis

Hello everyone, this Kay G. yet again with something else to talk about. Haven’t made my quota in a while so, I have a lot of catching up to do, ha.

So, I just finished reading multiple comics but the one I want to talk about today is,  “Identity Crisis” by Brad Meltzer, it’s an oldie but a goodie (well I suppose not that old, but still). I’ve been still trying to play catch up on all the comics I’ve been behind on, and still thanks to my partner my pile here keeps on growing. He’s definitely the go to person when it comes to comics; I like to refer to him as my human Wiki, believe me ask him anything (can’t promise it will be short or you’ll like the results though lol). As for me I do my best and enjoy the stories that I read which brings me back to my main topic at hand, “Identity Crisis.”

The only way I can keep describing this story is, well in lack of betters words; “this shit is so fucked up.” Let me explain to you what I mean, without giving too much away….I hope.  This story all starts when Sue Dibny, wife of Elongated man (a character I’m not very familiar with) is murdered in her own home.  This shakes up the entire superhero community, mourning for her lose they go in search of her killer. In doing so, a whole bunch of secrets are leaked out, and basically all hell breaks loose.

Elongated Man and wife Sue

The Funeral

I like the way this story unfolds, it’s like a mini mystery novel where a there’s a secret found out everywhere you turn and truth of past events come out to play. It’s like putting together a puzzle, but not knowing and trying to figure out what the final outcome will be. This story is phenomenal in its storytelling. Meltzer does a good job bringing to life these characters.  You feel for them, and go through the emotions with them. There was even a moment when I almost cried. All the characters are struggling within themselves on what is right and what is wrong. It is the first time, I’ve read or seen superhero’s really struggle with whom they are, what their identity is and if revenge is the right way to go. What I like most about this story is that you see heroes are not as black and white as they’re usually portrayed to be. As Green Arrow says more than once in this story is, “there’s a little bit of Bruce/Batman in all of us.” Meaning there’s a little bit of darkness in all of them.

“I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it, today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.” –Bruce Wayne

This comic is full of action, violence, grieving, sexual assault, lies and so much more. It’s so different than anything I’ve read.  It’s so disturbing that you can’t help but to keep reading, just to see what is about to happen next.  I love how the story is broken up so that each character is given their own time, to see what their struggle is in the world that they are in. We see these superhero’s flawed, and actually portrayed as real humans, other then what they’re portrayal to the whole world. I also like the way the comic written. Meltzer writes it like a script so that it reads like it’s a movie, with plot twists and dramatic realizations. The art work by Rags Morales, is also great with rich and bold colors, he does a great job spotlighting the main characters and shadowing the background characters when needed.

By far, the best part of this story is the ending. I was not expecting what happened at all. In the course of the story, the villain is never certain. They reveal one just to show that it could be another, all to find it out it was someone you would never expect. All the while so many lives were destroyed, lost and possibly even ruined. “Identity Crisis” is by far on one my top stories that need to be read, and it will not disappoint you. The whole thing is the mystery that is waiting to be solved, and you’ll enjoy figuring it out along the way. So pick it up and read it for yourself and you too will be saying, “how fucked up” this story really is.

Green Arrow #2

Hello again, people. It’s D.C. here, back to throwdown on a DC book. Let’s see if I can make some sense out of Green Arrow #2, Erasure:

Lesson time!

For those who don’t know, Green Arrow is Oliver Queen, Seattle-based businessman, philanthropist, leftist opinionated pig, and modern Robin Hood. Prior to the New 52 world, Green Arrow had a turbulent life come to a head (he did murder a villain, after all), but he was still the same enduring hero. In DC’s Rebirth era, I wonder what he is. That’s up to writer Benjamin Percy and artist Otto Schmidt to convey.

Highlights

Confession: I’ve never been a fan of Green Arrow. I always thought of Ollie Queen as one of those long-lasting heroes that is never quite as interesting when solo, in spite of what I know of his character history. Still, I decided to give Oliver Queen’s book a chance to change my opinions and biases.

One of the things that bugged me more about Rebirth’s version was the return of Black Canary and Ollie’s relationship. To me, it was a dead horse beaten. And as for a return? The last turbulent relationship they had was ended by Dinah Lance, albeit pre-Flashpoint. Why tread those waters again? What exactly would benefit the characters in a way that hasn’t been done before, short of them having children? I don’t get a damn about their old romantic team-ups.

Then again, what Rebirth relaunch isn’t rehashing some old stuff? Ugh.

But again, I gave the series a shot. I certainly thought issue #1 was a good setup for the series, especially with Shado’s return, Emiko’s continued presence, and the emergence of a new (?) enemy faction. The cliffhanger at the end  of issue #1 made me a little excited to see what #2 held.

Until I read it, that is.

Simply put, I felt everything in issue #2 was just forced. The entire ordeal of Ollie’s near-death experience, loss of capital, destruction of his home, and the seeming betrayal by his sister Emiko has no depth. It just seems like everything just…was. It’s like Benjamin Percy told me, “Here you go, look at this moment. Now look at this moment!” Where is the emotional impact in the moments? Where the feeling, period? Why rush it? These are moments that should push anyone to the brink of mental and physical collapse. None of this is shown with any sort of authenticity.

As for Otto Schmidt’s art…It’s very smooth and simple, yet not well-detailed. There’s not much in the way of landscape design, or much else, in my opinion. I’m new to Schmidt’s art. To me, it works well for other books, and it has a feel reminiscent of the Hanna-Barbara era. Schmidt can capture emotional expressions well, but it doesn’t come across well when Percy’s writing is added.

I don’t particularly care for this art here–I feel the overly-simplistic art gives the overall series, which already has lower-tier writing, a completely lower-tier quality. With Schmidt’s incongruous style, I’m left wondering just what feel the Green Arrow series is supposed to have.

Recap

While Green Arrow #1 was fairly promising, issue #2 fell short in every way. As a fairly new reader, I was left unsatisfied by Benjamin Percy’s rushed and ineffective writing. It lacked any depth and feeling, and came off as just a script that was pumped out to meet a deadline. Coupled with  goes for Otto Schmidt’s art; the outcome doesn’t give a good fit to me when I’m reading about a superhero. This result was what I feared most when DC decided to have twice-monthly published titles. This will be a problem soon enough.

I really hope the creative team shapes up and brings the depth this series, or any series, deserves.

END THROWDOWN.

Review of 3: Book of Death, Cyborg, Invincible Iron Man

Hey, all, D.C. here. I’ve spent so much time reading and so little writing, that I think I will throwdown in a different way with quick reviews on some of my reads to play catch-up.

Book of Death

Valiant’s 2015 event Book of Death picks up some time after The Valiant storyline. This time around, a new Geomancer is being manipulated by one of Valiant’s most enduring villains in an effort tear the world asunder. Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior and Tama, a time-displaced Geomancer, race to stop the catastrophic events detailed in Tama’s Book of the Geomancers from coming to pass. Of course, the Eternal Warrior’s allies in Unity believe Tama is the cause of dozens of murders, and seek to put her and Gilad down.

Like The Valiant, Book of Death is a very quick read, with Robert Venditti using the members of Unity pretty nicely. Venditti does not waste time and paper in this book, such as Eternal Warrior handing his allies their asses in entertaining fashion. It is pleasing to see an isolated tale that simply cranks out the story while maintaining sufficient (and sometimes compelling) interactions between the warring protagonists and antagonist.

Robert Gill’s art is nothing particularly special in my eyes, but his appropriate facial expressions, body language, and gestures are an adequate job. This is focused well on a rough and desperate Gilad Anni-Padda, who is driven to prevent further failure of his duty. The ending was written just as simply with satisfaction and finality. It twists the fate of an immortal warrior on its head, but also sets the tone for the follow-up series, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.

Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged

I finally decided to crank out DC’s Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged. David F. Walker does a good job focusing on the thoughts and insecurities of Cyborg in the New 52, and one of–in my eyes–seriously intelligent black characters in comics.

Walker adequately delved into the layers of Victor Stone: his friendships and rivalries; his superheroic identity, his internal conflict about how he sees himself and how he is viewed by others; his dysfunctional upbringing…and how they all serve to evolve Cyborg, literally and figuratively.

It was good to see Cyborg in his own element, and in his hometown, interacting with people only he would know. I thought some parts of Walker’s portrayal came off as silly, but that might have been an intentional show of Cyborg’s crass and non-very humorous sense of humor. Not everyone can be very funny, right?

Ivan Reis primarily does the art for this first volume, and he does a great job presenting smooth and detailed art. Reis shows wonderfully intricate detail to the cybernetics on Cyborg and his antagonists.

I don’t get to read many black-centric comic characters, and this was one that did a character like Cyborg some justice.

Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot

Marvel’s flagship All-New, All-Different Marvel title was something I was waiting to tackle. Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot delves right into Tony Stark’s attempts to reinvent himself after a mid-life crisis style…crisis…when his ingenuity is questioned and challenged.

I enjoyed the new cast in Invincible Iron Man. For the most part. David Marquez’s art is great. He draws a new, vivaciously intelligent woman in Stark’s life who challenges his bravado in big ways. Dr. Doom’s return post-Secret Wars was portrayed very well, yet there is still much mystery as to Doom’s motivations and machinations. Madame Masque’s unmitigated insanity is always a pleasure to read.

What really started soured this experience, though, was Brian Michael Bendis’ portrayal of Iron Man. It seemed obvious, to me, that Bendis was trying much too hard to capitalize on the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and trying to invoke Robert Downey, Jr.too much. The comedy quickly lost its luster. Much of the story arc was honestly forget to me, aside from Madame Masque, so I think Bendis needs to find a spark that will give weight to this book.

Mary Jane Watson’s inclusion in Invincible Iron Man is of no problem to me. I have always believed that characters don’t “belong” in a particular book, and that they can find a place in any place, in any book, with the right reasons and writer. It changes the dynamics. And you can see the dynamics start to shift for both MJ and Iron Man. The curse of continuity changes reared its ugly head when Tony introduced himself to MJ. How is it that they don’t know one another when Spider-Man was an Avenger, when MJ lived in Stark Tower for a time? Even after Spider-Man’s One More Day storyline, there should be no reason these two would introduce themselves. And that moment soured the experience even more.

Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1 has much to offer, but it also leaves much to be desired. I hope Bendis and polish his portrayal of Iron Man without trying to copy-paste Robert Downey, Jr. on paper. If I wanted that, I’d save money and watch the MCU films.

Hm…three quick reviews? There will be more to come. Tune in next time, folks.

END THROWDOWN!