Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 7)

Continued from Part 6: One part demi-goddess, two part boobs, all kickass!

#1 – Aquaman is… badass?!

Last, but (surprisingly) no longer the least is none other than AQUAMAN, reimagined by the master of revamps, Geoff Johns (who also singlehandedly fixed everything previously wrong with the Green  Lantern saga and I highly recommend his entire GL series, which is actually still cannon btw). Aquaman has long been the ass-end to many a punch-line in pop-culture references. Whenever a comedian bashes super heroes, Aquaman is exhibit A, a fact that Johns actually exploits and embraces, but ultimately he succeeds in proving everyone is completely wrong. Aquaman is by no means a lame character, however he has been done an injustice on more than one occasion.

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 6)

Continued from Part 5: Superman’s ‘Super-suit’

#2 – One part demi-goddess, two part boobs, all kickass.

Now here’s a classic heroine who rarely gets her due, often the center of controversy concerning her own wardrobe changes (to pants, or not to pants), this Amazon Princess has reverted back to a more classic look. Since her inception, WONDER WOMAN was a great concept, the first woman, superhero created by Dr. William Moulton Marston (who also invented the lie-detector). Wonder Woman was the first of many DC heroines including Supergirl, Black Canary, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Huntress, Power-girl, and Harley Quinn among countless others.

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 5)

Continued from Part 4: ‘Holy Bat-Comics, Batman!’

#3 – Superman’s ‘super-suit’!

Perhaps the biggest change to DC’s new 52 initiative was the revamp of Superman himself.

Now, I feel the need to preface this by saying I really am a huge super-fan, like ever since the premier of Smallville’s pilot a good eleven years ago (when I was in high school that is). Mark Waid’s ‘Superman: Birthright’ several years ago simply enforced everything I subconsciously dug about this legendary icon, however at the same time I’ve always been of the opinion that his costume was, for lack of a nicer word, outdated.

To be fair, it is after all the original superhero outfit, and therefore practically blasphemy to tweak it, but I do think it was the right call to finally shake things up a bit (those red speedos had to go). As with most of the New 52 versions of the DC heroes, practically all of their designs now emphasize practicality, thanks to Jim Lee. For instance: the Green Lanterns wear energy construct uniforms, Flash’s costume is apparently some kind of nano-tech, Aqua-man wears Atlantean Scale-male, and Batman has a light-weight suit of Kevlar high-tech armor.

In the pages of the new ACTION COMICS, by the great Grant Morrison (of ‘All-Star Superman’ fame), a young Man of Steel is first starting out as a Metropolis vigilante in… blue jeans, work boots, a red indestructible cape (we later learned belonged to his biological grandfather), and a certain symbolic, Kryptonian ‘S’-shield crest across his chest, emblazoned on his…um… t-shirt? One of the purposes of this story arc is to show the evolution of a super man to a true super hero. For one he’s both inexperienced, and de-powered significantly. In the new continuity this story takes place 10 years prior to the current-era, main ‘Superman’ title (by George Perez) where he’s already established, and working for the Daily Planet, and 5 years before the Justice League story where he first runs into Batman and co.

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 4)

Continued from Part 3: Leagues, Titans, and Guardians (oh my!)

#4 – “Holy Bat-Comics, BATMAN!”

In the New-52 there are a total of 16 current Bat-related titles, 6 of which actually star the Dark Knight himself, and in 4 of those he’s the leading man (3 of which are solo missions), and best of all, every single one of them is top-notch… as it should be! Batman is simply a great character in every sense, created by the legendary Bob Kane, but it’s astounding, after all this time, how these writers still manage to come up with new and different takes on all his villains, various allies, and numerous adventures, without constantly re-hashing the same damn stuff!

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 3)

Continued from Part 2: Not your grandma’s heroine…

#5 – Leagues, Titans, and Guardians (oh my!)

It was probably a good move to not immediately re-hash the origins of every single character in the new 52 #1’s, it’d probably come across as redundant, and unnecessary.  However, they have done an impressive job of showing the origins of a few different team-ups and explaining why they would work together to begin with (Even ‘JL-International’ wasn’t as terrible as I suspected). One of the best things they did was to retell the formation of the JUSTICE LEAGUE.

First off there’s an incredible roster, you have the essential core characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan of course), the Flash (Barry Allen, nuff said), Aquaman, and even… Cyborg?! Sweet! (for those wondering about the absence of the Martian Manhunter, he can be found in the pages of ‘Storm Watch’) Not only is it one incredible line-up of ‘Super Friends’ (who don’t get along), but you have two incredible talents working on it, this epic 6-part team-up includes: Writer Geoff Johns as scribe, and none other than the amazing talents of renowned artist Jim Lee!

You’ve got one clever catalyst as a reason for the initial roster: DARKSIED! Yep the Inter-dimensional tyrant of the volcanic Planet ‘Apokolips’ (sounds like a wonderful vacation spot).

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 2)

Continued from Part One: The Fastest Man Alive (Exclusively)

#6 – Not your Grandma’s Heroine….

It’s finally starting to sink in that a majority of comic readers / nerds aren’t actually kids, in fact, but that the primary majority of fan-boys AND girls (according to statistics) are somewhere between college students and middle-aged bachelors (This has actually been the trend since the late 80’s / early 90’s following Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, Frank Miller’s “Sin City”, and Neil Gaimain’s “The Sandman”). It’s good that comics have not only acknowledged this, but embraced it, this is especially evident in titles like CATWOMAN (kinkier than ever), and BATWOMAN (think kick-ass lesbian version of Batman, not to be confused with Bat-girl).  Both titles are not only really well written, and directed towards an adult audience, but also have some top-notch quality artwork! Just check out how the panels flow in Batwoman, thanks to artist J.H. Williams III.

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Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 1)

DC Comics has been around in some carnation or another basically since your great grandfather was your age. It all began with the introduction of the first super hero, SUPERMAN in Action Comics #1 and the rest is folklore for another blog. Suffice it to say that DC is home to some of the most iconic characters in modern American mythology, an entire pantheon of reimagined gods!

When you have an ongoing, never-ending series like say BATMAN, which has been going on since give or take 70+ YEARS since his first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS #27 (the title DC took its name after) you’re going bound to get some weird storylines thrown in… especially during the sixties. Back in the day, a writer would be dishing out issue after issue for a paycheck (can’t blame them) and would occasionally have to pull a rabbit out of their ass (poor rabbit) to make it happen, and you’d get some piece of shit like ‘Batman and Robin in Space fighting mutant communist ant-people from the fourth dimension!’ (there are just certain things you can’t un-see, and therefore can’t easily retcon). Problem is that other writers would later have to make sense of this… and so cam the first of many a CRISIS, in which the status quo of the multiverse was balanced (see ComicZombie’s summary of this in “5 DC moves I Hated”).

Every time a ‘Crisis’ came along the universe would be tinkered with, backstories were edited, plot holes filled with cement while the audience was distracted by the pointless death of a beloved character (cough cough Barry Allen). The point is, they did it again, but this time they began with a clean slate, mostly, and there were understandably mixed feelings about some of this modernization, but sometimes change is good.

Sales have definitely proven that DC made the right move by re-launching their entire comic book line, renewing interest, and reinvigorating the comic book industry itself!

Originally I sat down contemplating 52 reasons to read DC’s “New 52” (named for the 52 new #1 titles), but came to the conclusion that if you were willing to read through that list there’s a good chance you didn’t need convincing to begin with. Much like the re-launch of the DC Universe I cut down that convoluted mess, narrowing it down to what really mattered. I also decided it was best to focus on the positive aspects, rather than the negative, disappointing, and infuriating changes / completely mishandled characters (Green Arrow).

We’re now heading into Issue 7 of each of the monthly titles, which means a lot of the initial story arcs are wrapping up, and so far they’re still going strong! If you’ve never read comics, now’s a great time to jump in, but for anyone who hasn’t been following the new DC comics I’m going to throw it out there that There Will Be SPOILERS!

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Top 5 Favorite Superman Stories

I’m not the world’s biggest Superman fan. I don’t normally read that many Superman stories, but I tend to gravitate towards the really good ones. There’s something about Superman; I would say that the best Superman stories just feel like there’s something extra special about them compared to any other character. Maybe it’s because he’s the first and the best, but really good creators tend to do their very best work on Superman, whether that’s Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, or whomever.

5. The Death and Return of Superman

The thing people have to remember about the death of Superman is that nothing had ever hit the public like that from the world of comics. Not only was this story getting mainstream press every week, it was getting a LOT. Air time on Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show, and pretty much every news show talked about it for quite a while. The creators and editors involved were made into instant pseudo-celebrities. It has since spawned video games, an animated movie, and a ton of stories. Its immediate follow-up, the Reign of the Supermen, created 4 new ‘Supermen’, 3 of which were still prominent figures in DC, at least until the recent line-wide reboot.

So to begin things off the creators introduced Doomsday, an unstoppable killing machine that would be the one to kill the Man of Steel. Doomsday effortlessly cuts a path of devastation across the country until he is confronted by the Justice League. Unfortunately for the League, they are utterly overmatched by Doomsday, even with one of his arms still tied behind his back. Literally. The dude has one of his arms confined behind his back and still punks the JLA out like they were a bunch of rookies.

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Hulk smash! I mean, no, wait…

Superman then shows up, and they proceed to destroy the hell out of each other and everything until at last they stop each other. With the last of his strength, Superman unloads everything he has into one last blow, which kills Doomsday. The effort from the punch, combined with the severe damage and injuries sustained during the battle, was just too much, and he dies in Lois Lane’s arms in the middle of the streets in Metropolis.

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Top 5 DC Moves I Hated

DC Comics has pretty much always been about changing things up. They rebooted their entire line more than a few times, they have replaced beloved characters with ones nobody cared about, they have dragged their icons through the mud on numerous occassions. They’ve let titles like JLA, JSA, and Teen Titans spend so much time floundering that it should be considered criminal. But there are a few things they’ve done over the years that drove me crazy, and I was able to narrow it down to the 5 most glaring (to me). Keep in mind that these aren’t the 5 worst moves DC has ever made, but the ones that I disliked the most. So, in no particular order….

1.Final Crisis

250px-FinalcrisistpbDC has always had this thing that they do. First, they lose control of how streamlined their universe is. Then, they compound the problem by adding retcons, and new characters replacing old ones, and revamps. Then, realizing that this has left a bigger mess, they have a “Crisis” and come out of it with a new universe. After the first, “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, Supergirl and the Flash were dead (among others), and they relaunched their books (or at least their characters) with new origins, and the previous decades of stories no longer ‘counted’. Then, about ten years later, the same problem had happened. They had lost control of their universe, and the titles were suffering. Rather than doing the Marvel (aka ‘smart’) thing, namely getting top talent on your titles and telling them to go nuts, DC decided the real problem wasn’t the way the books were being made, but rather that they just all needed new blank slates (again). So there was “Zero Hour”, which led to the deaths of a lot of people, most notably the Atom, Hourman, and Dr. Midnite from the JSA. After Zero Hour everything was rebooted (AGAIN). Cut to 15 years later, and DC is doing pretty darn well. Their books are as good as they’ve ever been, they have A list creators working for them, and they’re exploring movie options for a number of them. But still, they decided they needed a clean start (albeit not a complete reboot, more like a… restructuring), so along came “Infinite Crisis”, which didn’t so much reboot everything as it let them fix some continuity problems that they had. It actually made the entire line stronger, but that wouldn’t last…

A few years later DC has squandered almost all of the good will they had built with fans from projects like Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, etc. After “Countdown”, and the mind-boggling handling of the Flash, the Justice League, Superman, and the Teen Titans, DC decided it was time once again to have a crisis. Enter Grant Morrison and Final Crisis, a story about what happens to the Earth when gods from another planet start to manifest here. While that’s a cool story idea, the execution was, to say the least, flawed. Rather than a straightforward story, we got a metaphysical wankfest from Morrison, who had much more interest in writing about the strength of myths and stories rather than any kind of ACTUAL story. It was a huge mess, and really killed any momentum that was left from the Infinite Crisis days.

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Not only was the story a mess, but it was completely forgettable. It had no real lasting effect on any of the DC titles, not even Batman, who ‘died’ in Final Crisis. Well, that is if you read Final Crisis. If you were just reading Batman, it was clear that SOMETHING happened to him, but damned if anybody could figure it out. Not that it was some super-well written mystery, but it just didn’t make any damn sense. Finally, the fans started to speak with their money, and started dropping DC titles like they were made of dead babies and AIDS. This led to Warner Bros, DC’s parent company, to do some corporate restructuring, including bringing in Bob Harras as the new Editor-in-Chief. Bob was once the EIC at Marvel, and promptly ran them into bankruptcy. As soon as he was in charge at DC we saw him implement HIS idea for how DC should reboot (again. For the THIRD time in less than 10 years)…..
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The 5 Best Batman Stories You’ve Probably Never Read

So everyone knows about Year One and the Dark Knight Returns.  A lot of people know about The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, and most people who have ever read a Batman comic know about the Killing Joke (after Year One, my personal favorite). But those have been discussed, dissected, and praised into the ground.

I’d like to tell you about 5 Batman stories that you probably have never heard of, much less read before. One of them is an “Elseworlds” story, which was an imprint DC Comics used to tell stories about their characters in completely different situations than you would normally find them, much like Marvel’s “What If…?”. For instance, in an Elseworlds story you might see Batman become a vampire and fight Dracula, or see what would have happened if Kal-El’s rocket ends up being discovered by a young Gotham couple before they ever have a son of their own, a couple named Thomas and Martha Wayne… Another of the stories I’m going to talk about isn’t an Elseworlds story, but it doesn’t really ‘count’ in the Batman continuity, as it takes place 100 years after the Batman first showed up in Gotham. The others take place in completely different periods in Batman’s career, from the beginning to the ‘dark period’ of the 1980’s to more or less the present.

I present my 5 Batman stores you’ve probably never read.

5. Batman: Year 100

BatmanYear100100 years after Batman first began stalking the streets and rooftops of Gotham city, and things aren’t so great. Big brother is watching everyone all the time, everything is run by gigantic corporations that own and control governments, and there isn’t anybody standing up for the people in Gotham. The police have the capability, but are largely crooked beyond belief. One of the honest Gotham cops, a Lt. Gordon (the great grandson of the Commissioner) does what he can, but it’s not enough. Then there is a gun fight, and a federal agent turns up dead, and the police are shut out of the case. Nothing adds up from the outside, and Gordon can’t figure out what’s going on. Everything seems strange, especially when you add in the bizarre reports of some kind of creature with giant, leather wings that can’t be killed by bullets, is inhumanly fast, and impossibly strong.

We all know who that sounds like….

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Paul Pope writes and draws this entire story, and his artwork is incredible. You see every wrinkle, every fold in Batman’s suit. When he uses gadgets you can see every nut and bolt. The details are great.

 

The story is a little strange as you get into it, as you don’t really know who Batman is until the end, and while it’s a cool reveal, it’s also a bit of a head scratcher, because it’s hard to believe that this person would still be alive after all this time. Regardless, it’s a really interesting take on the Batman mythology, and in my opinion every bit as valid of a possible future for Batman as the Dark Knight Returns was.

 

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