Monday, 28 April 2008

So, Farewell Then . . .

This is a rhetorical question, but does anyone else think Countdown To Final Crisis ended with more of a whimper than a bang?

After all that hype, all that universe hopping, the key series leading into the forthcoming Final Crisis limped to an end. Pied Piper - last seen being blown to hell in issue #9 - somehow survived and landed in Gotham City; Jason Todd who appears to have foregone the Red Hood identity is also in Gotham, as surly and nasty as he was when he started out; Mary Marvel is still wearing black and has become a petulant bad girl; Buddy Blank has become an OMAC more recognisable to older readers (and readers of older comics) and the boy who would be Kamandi on another Earth here turns out to have been named Tommy all along in a nod to the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths retcon; and the Challengers From Beyond . . .

After moping around Ray Palmer's house they address the Monitors and tell them to watch their behinds because they are monitoring the Monitors.

I can't help wondering if this whole idea of Kyle Rayner, the Atom, Donna Troy and Forager (I notice Jimmy Olsen didn't make the cut) keeping tabs on the Monitors is just going to get swept under the carpet. Rayner's a Green Lantern so will have duties elsewhere; the Atom's already due to appear in The Atom series alongside Ryan Choi, the latest Atom; Donna Troy's back in with The Titans; which leaves Forager . . . one new character (with little characterisation) is going to monitor all of the Monitors? In which series is this likely to happen?

No, I think it's more likely that a few months down the line, after Final Crisis, we'll never hear about this whole monitoring the Monitors lark again.

Which won't be a bad thing to my mind.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Power Girl Ongoing Series Announced!

Isn't synchronicity a wonderful thing?

No sooner do I post a Friday Night Fight featuring the adventures of Power Girl from her less than auspicious 1988 mini-series than I read the splendid news that the oft-rumoured ongoing series is actually going to happen.

And what's even better news is the creative team behind it: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray will be writing while art will be by the superb Amanda Conner.

Conner's take on the character in the four issue Power Trip storyline in JSA Classified won her praise from all corners a couple of years ago and to have her back, working on PG is great news. Palmiotti and Gray can be trusted to deliver a damn good story (as evidenced in the marvelous Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters among others) which all adds up to a series I can't wait to see.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Friday Night Fights - Feel The Force!

It's been a bit short on witty banter about comics round here this last week (some would say these last few months) but that's just because I've been busy with work. However, gratuitous violence will always perk me up, hence this, my second classic (ie black and white) Friday Night Fight!

From the dim and distant past of 1988, Power Girl fights a villain who needs no introduction:
Ah, apparently he does need an intro: he's The Force, a villain tough enough to cause her to worry . . .
. . . for about a second before she figures out his weakness: electricity!
In true superhero style, the battle ends with a quip . . .
. . . and several thousand volts.

With villains of this caliber appearing in the Power Girl miniseries, I find it hard to believe she didn't get an ongoing out of this . . .

Though if anyone deserves their own series, it's the mighty Bahlactus!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The Secret Six Are Coming Back!

And, even better, it's going to be an ongoing series written by Gail Simone!

Happy, happy news.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Friday Night Fights

I feel as nervous as Jimmy Olsen auditioning for the Justice League: my first Friday Night Fight and, as Bahlactus demands, it's in black and white.
With more sound effects for punches than you can possibly imagine, Batman goes up against the Suicide Squad's Colonel Flag.
But as is always the case with these things, there can only be one winner.
Though I'm fairly sure Bahlactus could take Batman....

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Not The Dog's Bollocks

I decided to forgo a Cocktail post this week, despite the large number of candidates: Justice Society Of America #14 would easily have won out if only for the best next issue box ever ("Next: Someone gets beat up. Bad."); Booster Gold #8 saw not only the return of Wild Dog and Pantha but promised the return of Justice League International as well; having missed The Punisher #55 last month, I got that and #56 this week; Green Lantern Corps #23 put the pieces in place for what's shaping up to be a really good story; and even Countdown To Final Crisis #3 provided me with a laugh (see the previous post).

Green Arrow And Black Canary #7, however, is what I want to talk about, and not necessarily in a good way.

Judd Winick's writing has been critiqued all over the net this week, primarily because of Titans #1 which I didn't bother picking up. I'm not a huge fan of Winick's but I've tended to cut him some slack over the years. I knew next to nothing by him when he took over Green Lantern back in 2000 but by the time he swapped over on to Green Arrow in 2003 he hadn't exactly endeared me to him. However, I stuck with him primarily for the characters - these are comics I've been reading for God knows how many years - even through the interminable Trials Of Shazam which finally ended a week or two ago with the most obvious reveal of where Zeus had been hiding all along.

Though it may seem like sacrilege to some, I was never into the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans and despite picking up the Titans East Special a couple of months back, thought this was the perfect time not to pick up another Judd Winick comic. Having read several reviews of Titans #1, particularly Newsarama's, I'm kinda glad.

As I've mentioned before, the glorious artwork of Cliff Chiang is one of the main reasons I'm still reading Green Arrow And Black Canary and with the negative reviews of Titans ringing in my ears and Mike Norton taking over on art, it was with some trepidation that I opened #7 (though if that is Norton's work he's doing a damn fine impression of Chiang.) I was pleasantly surprised, then, to read the first five or six pages with Green Lantern gently taking the mick out of Green Arrow just like the long time friends they are. This was banter and dialogue worth reading and I found myself thinking that Winick's not bad every once in a while and that maybe I should have picked up Titans after all.

And then the story moved to London and yet another American take on English dialogue.

Mia's exuberance and cry of "Pip, pip! Cheerio! Bob's your uncle!" are perfectly understandable as is her demand for "fish and chips and whatever the hell bangers and mash are," (for the record, they're sausages and mashed potatoes, usually served in our house with baked beans but they can be dished up with gravy and another vegetable) so I've no problem with that.

No, it's the "Cor blimey, guv'nor!" words coming from the charming villain of the piece, Dodger, that set my teeth on edge.

To Mia: "Geez, luv, isn't it a bit early for a bird like you to be bellying up?" What? Who refers to a woman as "a bird like you" direct to the woman's face? "Bellying up?" What the hell does that mean?

"Lemme buy ya a round." Close, but no cigar. You don't buy an individual person "a round" you buy "a round" of drinks for several people. If there's a bunch of friends in a pub, the general rule is that each person takes it in turn to buy a round for everyone else rather than everyone buying their own drinks.

"Watchin' like they're gonna nick your coat off the rack." It's completely redundant to say "off the rack." I don't think I've ever been in a pub which has a coat rack, and certainly not one in London - neither have I been in a pub in London that had so few customers, either. The place is the capital city of England and is packed with people but team Arrow appears to have found the only country pub in the city.

"Keep your gob shut or it'll be six inches lower." Judd, trust me - no-one has used the term "gob" for "mouth" since about 1988.

Oh and it goes on, as well, more than I can stand.

I really wanted to enjoy the rest of this issue after the excellent first few pages, but it just headed downhill once more. I like the characters and I want to know what happens to Connor but I can't help wishing someone other than Winick would take over as writer.

Friday, 11 April 2008

You Can Keep Your Action Figures...

What I want is my very own Mary Marvel Bobblehead as previewed in Countdown To Final Crisis #3:
Look at the size of her head! It's enormous!

Wow, three posts in one week - a personal best!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Worrying Over Nothing?

I like Geoff Johns' work, I really do and with that in mind I find myself thinking that perhaps I should have a little more faith in him right now.

A week or two back the cover of this summer's Justice Society Of America Annual #1 was released with the strap line "Welcome To Earth-2"

As you can see, it shows Power Girl surrounded by various other heroes, all of whom appear to be the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths versions of heroes who lived on the pre-COIE Earth-Two.

Much has been written about how the new, post-52 multiverse is not the same as the pre-COIE multiverse and yet here we see Power Girl being greeted like the long lost Kryptonian prodigal daughter.

While I can understand PG's apparent elation at finally finding a facsimile of the world she originally inhabited, I can't quite fathom why this Earth-2's Robin, Huntress and the others are so pleased to see her.

If this Earth-2 isn't the same as the old Earth-Two then they're different people. Even if this Earth-2 has lost it's Power Girl (as foreshadowed at the end of 52) our PG isn't theirs!

And this is where I really need to take a break and relax - Power Girl's one of my favourite characters and Geoff Johns is one of my favourite writers so I really should just trust the guy. After all, he sorted out the mess of her continuity (by ignoring 20 years' worth of half-assed ideas) so she should be in safe hands.

Don't let me down, Geoff . . .

Monday, 7 April 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #18

While there were several contenders this week - in particular Blue Beetle #25 from the week before which I really, really wanted to post about because it was so good but couldn't get around to - which included the laugh out loud funny The Boys #17, the wonderfully shaping up Project Superpowers #2 and the gorgeous The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #2, it was a twenty year old book that stole my heart over the weekend.

Batman: The Killing Joke has been written about by so many other people that it almost seems redundant to talk about the story. I know that Alan Moore isn't particularly enamoured of the story as he thinks it says nothing about the human condition - I read an interview with him where The Killing Joke was mentioned and just remember his reply, even if I can't lay my hands on the interview right now.

So while I'm not going to labour the point about this - Moore's own words notwithstanding - being a fantastic story, the thing that made me choose this was the recolouring by Brian Bolland.

It is, quite simply, gorgeous. If you have a copy of the original (and if you don't, why the hell not?) it's worth flicking through them side by side just to really appreciate the difference.

While Bolland himself thanks original colourist John Higgins for stepping in when the original was published back in the late 80's, he says in the afterword that Higgins's work "turned out to be startlingly at odds with what [Bolland] had in mind" and comparing them you can see what he means.

Take the single panel that I've chosen to illustrate this: gone is the all over red/orange wash from the original, replaced instead with more traditional colours. Batman's cape, cowl and gloves are blue/black; his suit is grey; the utility belt is a muted yellow.

The only real change throughout the book - though there are many subtle ones - is the yellow circular background to the bat symbol on his chest. Not so much altered as removed entirely, it seems even costumes aren't safe from the occasional ret-con.

As to the portrayal of the Joker himself, he too benefits from the recolouring, not only with the vivid red and green of his lips and hair respectively, but also the flashbacks to his possible origin. Again, the all over wash colouring by Higgins has been replaced, leaving a sepia/grey-tone to everything with the exception of individual items, most notably the Red Hood mask, which stand out in splashes of colour.

Maybe this book doesn't say much about the human condition but, for many people myself included, it remains a favourite. Even if you do own a copy of Batman: The Killing Joke, I recommend you splash out those few extra pounds, dollars or whatever and treat yourself to the Deluxe edition.

It's a thing of beauty, my friends.


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