Showing posts with label DCU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DCU. Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2015

DC TV presents "Legends of Tomorrow" and the trend of non-glowering superheroes expands

Opting to not recycle a title of a long-canceled comic is bold new territory for DC Entertainment.  Spun off from the mopey CW hit, Arrow, and its spin-off, The Flash, supporting superheroes (and popular villains) introduced in those series land in a single show.

if you'd told me 5 years ago I'd get a TV show with an Atom/ Captain Cold/ Hawkgirl/ Firestorm team-up...


Here you go:



I don't know what to say except: "really?"

That's not a bad "really" either.  That's a "you really made this show I'm totally going to watch?"  I mean, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer!  Get out!

It's not going to be good as in The Americans, Mad Men or a few other shows I'm enjoying.  And certainly not as tonally ambitious as Daredevil.  But it does look like the brand of fun DC Entertainment seems to have remembered it was supposed to be the home for with the success of The Flash, seems to backpedaling into in the comics line and rolled over for on Supergirl.  Heck, I even expect a lighter tone on Arrow next season when I'm forced through another crossover event, and that show is the most unnecessarily overwrought business on TV.

And, if I may...  Man, from the comics, I love the Flash villains (aka: The Rogues) as much as any B-list characters in comics, and if I absolutely were required to pick a favorite, it would be Captain Cold (Grodd has a very special place in my heart, but he's not so much technically a Rogue, but I'm splitting hairs).  And, man, have I enjoyed Cold this season on The Flash.  So seeing him get extra screentime is a big win for me.

Here's to DC doing good things on TV and making up for the comics they seem to be having such a hard time making these days.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

So, Miller is making it a Dark Knight Trilogy? All righty, then.

What do you even say when you see DC has signed up Frank Miller to create a third installment in the vein of Dark Knight Returns/ Dark Knight Strikes Again?  I think you say "DC needs a hit for the 3rd Quarter or Dan Didio will need a new jobby job."



And that's okay.  I'm a little past the point of hoping that DC Entertainment, a division of Time Warner, Inc., is really all that invested in the artistry of comics in 2015, but it's not like comics haven't recycled ideas before.  These sorts of short term stunts have generally paid off for Didio, and he's certainly running out of his usual bag of tricks now that he's exploited all of his predecessor's successes so many times over that he had to throw bags of gold at Frank Miller (or really pray Sin City 2 would do exactly what it did at the box office) in order to get him back at DC writing comics.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics



If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In which we consider DC's June post "Convergence" shake-up and new costumes

Sigh.

I kind of want to be out of the business of thinking about DC's moves as a company, because it's equal parts equally unsatisfying and depressing.

In case you missed the interview with Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee that was featured at places like Comic Book Resources yesterday, they're basically moving forward by going back to not tying every book in the DC line to superhero mainline continuity.  As comics were up through the 1980's, DC and Marvel surely put out Superman and Spider-Man, but we didn't need to worry how that fit in with Teen-Age Romance Comics or Katy Keene In Love or whatever made up title I just made-up.

And DC is going back to - maybe not putting out Teen-Age Romance Comics - but they are saying "not everything here is in the main DCU, so quit worrying about that".

Jim Lee, who I am pretty sure has no idea what an actual buyer of comics looks like or thinks, was quick to tell his core audience that we're mistaken for wanting continuity to work in an ongoing serial.  And we were also mistaken for expecting both the New 52 to make sense and the five year time jump to hold together after DC said "it all makes sense, we'll show you" and then absolutely did not do so.

Now, all of this is coming on the heels of Convergence, which is a munging of the DC Multiverse, and because it's been a few years, I think we all needed to expect Didio was going to once again reboot the DCU.  They're not saying that, but they are absolutely saying that the characters will have new, unheard of status quos.  So, practically speaking, a rejigger if not a reboot.

So, let's review the images for the solicitation copy, shall we?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Aqua-Dude Revealed


This is Aquaman from the upcoming Superman vs/ and Batman: Don of Sandwiches by Zack Sny.... zzzzzzzzzz....

I don't care.  I'm not planning to see it.

As I said elsewhere - I'm excited for Jason Momoa, but less excited that the DCU is basically turning the JLA into an early 00's nu-metal band.

But if this take on Aquaman came as any surprise to you after the past ten years of Zack Snyder films, well, start paying attention, my man.  I like Jason Momoa in theory more than practice - he hasn't been in anything I've really liked and I gave up on Game of Thrones when he went away (spoilers!), but he seems like such a cool guy.  I want for him to succeed.

I have no problem with his casting or even, really, this look for Aquaman, as Aquaman is a character whose look and characterization the past 2-3 decades have been more fluid than a spoonful of mercury on a hotplate.  I like Aquaman in theory, but the only Aquaman comics I've liked were in JLA comics and the Sub-Diego storyline in his own, about 10 years ago.  Maybe he'll make for a sellable action figure this way.  What do I know?

But I do not, at all, get why DC thinks that targeting a very specific 18-24 year old is the answer for their IP farm.  Marvel has shown, to the tune of billions of dollars, that adherence to the comic book looks and fidelity to the road-tested comics and cartoon versions of the characters is a winning formula across multiple generations of movie goers and toy buyers.  It seems like getting this specific is potentially extremely limiting to the appeal of the DCU.  I mean, I have not seen one kid who seemed to give a crap about Man of Steel in the 2 years since the film's release.  Not one t-shirt, not one Halloween costume, not one kid clutching an action figure.  That's a problem.

This is not the solution, ya dum dums.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We take on a tough, sensible question from a longtime reader

Horus writes in with a sensible question/ point of order:

Here's what I don't understand about you, League. I completely agree with the basic attitude of the post: any character can be good, just write them well! But then, why stick to Big 2 characters?

As you yourself say:

"And, here's the problem in a shared universe driven by editorial management: is that thing you liked replicable, or does it require the handling of specific creators with a specific vision?"

Why stick with the shared universe, which perhaps necessarily is going to end up being driven by editorial management? Or if you demand shared universe, why not go with something looser and third party (hey, Cerebus and Spawn once had a comic together, you know!).

Just saying, if you want weird, creative characters with great stories and writing, they're out there, just not provided by the folk who view characters entirely in terms of branding and name recognition . . .


Wow. Well, don't pull any punches, man.  Sheesh

But that's fair. If we can't ponder this sort of question, we aren't doing anyone any good.

here's a random picture so we have a picture

There are a lot of factors, and I'd start with the first - that I'm a human who contradicts himself and we get most angry with the faults we see in ourselves.  So, check that off your list.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Superman 38 and the Geoff Johns/ John Romita Jr. run

So, Superman #38 has been out for a week or so, and it's been generating some news in comic book land.

Superman got his buffalo wings "super spicy"


To date, this feels like the only successful run on the New 52 Superman title from DC Comics.  The title has struggled since George Perez more or less disavowed the 6-issue run bearing his name during the New 52 launch, and once Scott Lobdell came on, I gave it an issue or three and then did the unthinkable.  I actually dropped Superman.

Lobdell is my second least favorite writer to ever take on Superman, with Chuck Austen's mind-blowingly terrible work on the character and world of Metropolis front and center.  So, to get everyone up to speed, I've basically lost track of what was happening in the Superman titles for a good long while as they crossed-over with Supergirl and Superboy (a pair of books I couldn't stand within two issues of the New 52 launch), and then the Superman line launched in to the astoundingly poorly executed Doomsday-Virus hoo-har, which I kind of read, but, sheesh.

So, in a lot of ways, Geoff Johns coming on Superman brought me back to not just to that title, but to doing more than flipping through Action Comics and saying "yup.  okay.  That's what they're doing, then."

Monday, February 9, 2015

The problem with vote-based meritocracy and authorship in comics

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, it's no secret I am easily annoyed.

Today's annoyance comes courtesy Comics Alliance.  They are currently running a poll in which they pitch the question Which DC Woman Most Deserves Her Own Solo Book?

To me, the question is non-sensical and highlights a multitude of issues - which I shall complain about below.



Friday, February 6, 2015

DC Diverges from New 52

So, apparently the new plan at DC Comics is "There is no plan".  Which... okay.

Go read this article at IGN and we'll be here when you get back.

I kind of thought something like this was a possibility, but given Didio's prior approach of a deeply editorially controlled and managed DC Universe, my odd's on it were about 10-15%.   I do see this as a bit of a "throw @#$% at the wall and see what sticks" approach, but I also think it makes more sense than trying to make 52 ongoing titles cohesive 12 times a year, plus annuals.  What it does lack is a name brand for the marketing effort - something that I think stuck around about two years too long at DC Comics with the New 52 (nothing is still new three years in), or a single message behind those books.  Which: GOOD.



When I was a kid, the gold standard by which we shall believe everything should be measured, there were a wide array of titles and comics from DC and Marvel.  'Mazing Man sat on the spinner rack next to Swamp Thing next to Batman and The Outsiders.*  I didn't pick everything up, but it made comics feel like a medium rather than a bunch of books about adults working out issues by punching things.

In the press release, it sounds like DC has realized the audience has changed and grown in the past few years and they need to serve that audience.

I can't say I'm overly thrilled with any of the announced titles in and of themselves (even I think a Bizarro book, even if great, is going to be gone by 2016), but I am pleased to see DC seems to be bringing back writers instead of just assuming characters will carry a title.  There was always a balance to be found between editorial mandate and letting writers go crazy in their corner o the DCU.

I am disappointed that there's really nothing here for me, no Superman Classic or Earth-0 book (and just seeing a book celebrating the too-many-Robins problem makes me weep a little inside), and the ongoing issues at DC in regards to refusing to provide a baseline DCU that these books are all a reaction to is a longterm issue, but that's been the story of comics and me the past few years.



*DC - making Halo a thing again is probably a good idea.  Just think of the merchandising!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pondering Convergence and Events at DC

This Spring, DC Comics is scheduled to move from New York to Los Angeles.  It's a pretty remarkable move  considering the company's offices have been in Manhattan since the mid 1930's, but given the attachment of DC Entertainment to Warner Bros. and the close ties to the West Coast Warner Bros. machine, and the fact that publishing can really be managed from anywhere these days, I guess it makes logical sense.  Even if it's not terribly romantic.

A long while back, DC mentioned they were going on a bit of a hiatus in the comics for two months while the company moved, and not ones to give up money for two months, they cooked up an event.  Known as Convergence, the event is a new sort of Crisis for the DCU where - I think - various versions of the DCU will be trapped in time by a now multi-verse spanning Brainiac and, because it's superhero comics, probably have to fight each other.

Because if Dan Didio likes to try something and watch it fail, he likes to do it even better a second time.

I feel like I'm the only person who remembers this
Arena wasn't all that long ago by my comic reading standards, but it was a lifetime ago for people who got into DC with the New 52.   And even longer ago, another omnipotent despot also kidnapped heroes and made them do battle...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Brandon Routh re-suits up as The Atom


From The Beat

Routh has been appearing on Arrow as Dr. Ray Palmer and now he's taking it up a notch.

I quite like The Atom, especially as a team character, and there's something really great about Routh getting a chance to play the character.  He seems like he really fits the bill, personality wise.

And this is a character I can appreciate wearing a weird, overly engineered costume for all the science-fiction-y reasons you could come up with that would tie to a guy who can shrink down small enough to slide between electrons.

Very excited about this as part of the Flash/ Arrow TV universe.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In Her Satin Tights, Fighting For Your Rights - "Wonder Woman '77" coming to comics

Over here at The Signal Watch, we don't "binge-watch" much TV.  When I hear someone watched an entire season of a TV show over a weekend, I think maybe that person has a butler who runs their errands, walks their dogs and amuses their friends and family in the hours when they aren't at work.  For me, "binge-watching" is watching an episode or two of a show a night, maybe 3-4 days a week.  I've done it with maybe 4-5 TV series, and haven't even finished most of those (sorry, Breaking Bad).

pew!  pew! pew! ping! ping! ping!


At the end of the summer and through the fall, we watched all 3 seasons of Wonder Woman.   We did so out of order and it took a while to do it, but we did finish.  And now?  I kind of miss it.  But I know it would be weird to watch the whole show over again so immediately.*

Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Me and Comics Since June 2013

I really don't know how to write this post, because, if you've been following me for any length of time - and, in particular, if you've been here because of comics, this is where I disappoint you.

I am no longer a "read 20 comics per week" kind of guy.  I'm more of a "I'll knock through a trade once a week or so" kind of guy.  My comics reading and collecting was changing before this site was frozen in carbonite, and it's continued to mutate.

y'all buckle in, because it's about to get pedantic and ornery up in here

I kind of quit trying to keep up with Marvel as a universe around Secret Invasion, which was several years ago now.  I've tried to keep up here and there with Captain America and a few other titles, but Marvel's insistence on the cross-over stunt has made that exceptionally difficult.  Pair that with the fact I read Marvel in trade collections rather than floppies or digital comics, and their "all new #1's all the time" marketing strategy, and I literally gave up trying to understand what was happening at Marvel as a Universe.  But I will be picking up some of the Star Wars books for a few months and see how I like a Marvelized Star Wars U.

DC and the New 52 kind of sent me screaming.   The quality of DC hasn't really improved much over the past two years, and it was in the basement with the launch of the New 52.  I recently read that by Spring, DC will have canceled 60 titles since the launch of the New 52, which is an indication that I'm not crazy to think they have some problems and maybe they aren't serving their audience very well.

In the past year, it's safe to say my habit of reading comics has greatly reduced.  At least the reading of new comics.  When I do buy floppies, I collect them for a couple months and read a few at a time, unless it's something that's self-contained.  And I'll talk about what I'm buying as floppies, which isn't much.

The other day I mentioned that I've recently also sold off a huge portion of my collection.  Well over half my stuff has been dispensed with since August, something like 15-20 boxes (short and long), something like 4-5000 comics.  I've also sold a huge number of my action figures, graphic novels and other items.

And - you know - I don't miss them.  I have more than a room full of great stuff that I like and feel like showing off from time to time, and it's a lot more focused than it once was.

So What Happened?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Supermarathon: All-Star Superman

Thanks to what's looking to be a busy week, this is the last installment of the Supermarathon as I'm booked pretty solid until Thursday night.  I hope I did us proud.

All-Star Superman adapts the 12 issue series that ran unevenly for years back when DC was playing havoc with schedules and you never really knew when a comic was coming out.  The art and story were worth it, and both were savaged at the time of the series' start, with the usual complaints about Morrison's writing drawing confusion and fans of the Jim Lee or Kubert school of illustration baffled by the stylized work of Frank Quitely.

You can view the film at Netflix Streaming.

No sooner than the series ended than word leaked that this comic was truly something unique, and - in what I've since come to simply expect when it comes to Superman - be it this comic or early reactions to Man of Steel, its fascinating to see the audience react to the core of the character and ask "why isn't the character usually like this?" or "where did this come from?" to ideas that were 40-50 years old at the time of the comic's publication.



That said, it took Morrison's storytelling and the voice he imbued in Superman and Luthor to make the series shine.  And, I'd argue, it took the clear, concise, character-driven storytelling of Dwayne McDuffie to take the comic and turn it into a movie that works despite the strange, episodic nature of the narrative.

For those who haven't read the comic, I won't bore you with what was cut to make the movie.  The DC Animation team managed to keep most of the story in place to keep the relevant bits intact and maintain the core of the story, even if its heart-breaking to know what might have been.  They also managed to keep much of the look of the comic, something I thought impossible, even if the 16x9 dimensions occasionally lose the impact of Quitely's page design.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And then, in 2013, DC Comics discovered hypertext fiction

If there's any doubt that DC Comics has moved to a number crunching behemoth of creative despair, today form Randy I received a link pointing me to a story about DC's latest effort, Multiverse Comics.  Basically, digital choose your own adventure comics.

At this point in the tenure of Diane Nelson, any hope for a creative renaissance at the company should be replaced with more of a visual of someone selling t-shirts outside the Louvre with a picture of Mona Lisa in a bikini top with a knife gripped in her teeth.*

There's a lot of reasons to sort of want to put your head down on the table about this one.

In 1991 or so the first hypertext fiction appeared, which promised branching narratives and the ability to dig further into a narrative - all in standard prose.  If you were going to raves and enjoying smart drinks in 1994, it all sounded like a nifty part of our bright future of this series of tubes called "the interwebs".  Just get yourself a 1600 baud modem and go nuts.

"But, hey The League," you might say.  "It's 2013!  Where can I purchase some of this hypertext fiction that's clearly the wave of the future?"

Tragically, it went the way of the Dippin' Dots and may not have been the ice cream/ preferred narrative construct of the future.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ouch. A Little DC Comics Schadenfreude for your evening.

Immature? Yes.
Unnecessary? Yes.
Hilarious? Absolutely.


Read more about DC's PR goofs at The Outhouse.

A functioning sign for keeping track of how often DC Comics has done something publicly very stupid.

All this as they cancel another slate of books, alienate another round of readers, and the publishing side erodes into a nu-metal album cover and licensing flails around, still making money but relying mostly on movie materials and pre-1986 images.

Thanks to CanadianSimon for the link.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Doc Watch: Wonder Women! on PBS

On Monday, I watched the documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines on the PBS series Independent Lens.

If you were expecting a documentary about the importance of Wonder Woman to 20th and 21st Century females as a symbol of power for women, you were in the right place.

You can watch the whole thing online at the moment.  Here you go.

For those of us who are already fans of the character, it's a nice tribute to the character, a nice consideration of the influence of the character across the 20th century, but the doc was also a bit frustrating.

The documentary was a good starter kit for someone to consider pop culture touchstones as gateway drugs for empowerment for women and a place to start the discussion of media portrayals of women.  But, if you know your Wonder Woman (and I only kind of feel like I've scracthed the surface of the character), the film followed the prescribed narrative checklist of players and topics you'd get in talking about Wonder Woman's history if you were to talk on the subject for more than five minutes.

We got:
  • William Moulton Marston's creation of a lie-detector and his hang-ups on bondage scenarios are touched upon
  • Glora Steinem talks the first cover of Ms.
  • Lynda Carter gets interviewed (and is still just as stunning)
  • various academics are interviewed who talk about what it means to have a strong female character at the start of World War II
  • Wonder Woman's second tier place in comics after WWII

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On the Event of Superman's 75th Anniversary

Today is, reportedly, the 75th anniversary of the debut of Action Comics #1.  75 years ago, Superman appeared on the cover of a comic book and, within a couple of months, had already risen to pop-culture superstardom.  By World War II, he had become a staple of Americana and - while Superman didn't invent the idea of the costumed hero, the science-fiction hero, or the altruistic do-gooder, he managed to put a distinct stamp on all of those ideas in one place - and has been endlessly imitated ever since.


In his first issue, all we knew was that Superman was a refugee of a doomed planet who arrived here as a baby.  There was no Jonathan and Martha Kent.  No Jor-El or Lara.  No Daily Planet (Clark landed a job at the Daily Star working for "Editor", I believe).  Just Lois, Clark, Superman and a whole lot of action.  And, man, Lois is a tough dame in that first issue.  No wonder Superman fell hard for her.

There are too many good books out there that talk about Superman's origins as a product of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for me to try to recreate the story here.  But they were down on their luck 20-somethings (not the teen-agers that are described to have just had Superman pop into their heads one night) when they sold the property to a struggling publisher who was soon outmaneuvered by some smooth operators.  I don't want to dwell too much on the fate of Siegel and Shuster, that's been fought out in the courts for five decades.  But their creation was not just one of the moment, but one of the past, the present and a limitless future, the likes of which we'd only ever seen in a few American fictional characters, from Ichabod Crane to Huckleberry Finn.  And this one arrived in a splash of color, crude drawings and an insurmountable flash of power.

Superman is an amalgamation of a dozen or so pulp literature ideas, some stolen outright from big names like Doc Savage, some from lesser known sources like the novel Gladiator.  Many find biblical aspects in his origins or in the perceived saintly selflessness of his actions (an interesting idea given Superman's varying presentations over the years).

I would argue that most people* don't really know anything about Superman, but everyone believes they know all you need to know.  A lot of folks can dismiss what they don't know as unimportant, thanks to the character's comic book roots, while ignoring the fact that Superman has been a huge part of every major media revolution.  You see people ascribe characteristics and virtues to the character based on a glance and some half-remembered bits from a movie they haven't seen in decades.  Others demonize those same virtues as old fashioned or out of touch, without ever deconstructing what it means to declare a desire for a more just world, to protect those who can't protect themselves as irrelevant in the modern context.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Man of Steel Trailer Arrives



It seems that the DNA of Richard Donner's Superman is stronger than you'd think.  For a movie that was to be bringing a new Superman to the world, there's certainly no small amount of the epic, world spanning vision Donner's Superman brought to the screen for the first time.  Not to mention that it was really Donner and Co. who brought Zod to prominence (he'd not even been the primary Kryptonian villain in the comics, that was Jax-Ur).  And there's definitely no small amount of what I recall from the Johns/ Donner penned issues of Action Comics from 2006-ish to what I'm picking up to be the plot.

All that said, I'm pleased.  I may miss the red trunks, but I think Cavill seems to have this down.  The footage looks spectacular, and (sigh) Amy Adams seems to be a new twist on Lois Lane.

I've heard say folks suggest that Superman doesn't need his origin retold for a new Superman movie, and I tend to disagree.  The origin has to work for modern audiences, and, more than anything, I think kids need to see the origin in a language they work in already - these days, that's big, loud, epic movies.

Well, no joke, I'm in.  Still looking at this with one squinted, skeptical eye as I remember whose name is attached as director, but you never know.

Oh, and, by the way, if that's Hans Zimmer's score, I approve.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Some artists I think handle Wonder Woman really pretty well

As a comic strip character, Wonder Woman is a tall order. Especially for the many comic artists who have, more or less, one or two styles of women they can draw, and then mix it up with clothes and color. We know what Wonder Woman might look like in our mind's eye, but, like Superman, mostly we know when its wrong.


The comics describe Wonder Woman as:
Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, and stronger than Hercules
How do you draw that?

If you're many artists, you chuck the icon and start drawing a swimsuit model in a "sexy" pose.

As an example, DC took some ribbing thanks to the "variant" cover for JLA #2, which featured the usually tough-looking male members of the JLA, and then a kind of youngish, kittenish version of Wonder Woman. I don't know that there was a better way to make the point that WW needs to be portrayed as a peer to her JLA colleagues and not as the resident cheesecake, but in response fans created the "what if male superheroes posed like Wonder Woman" meme.  You sort of hope DC brass hears about these things and applies changes as they go along.

I wasn't a Wonder Woman reader until way late in the game.  I was vaguely embarrassed then (and now) to pick up "sexy" covers on comics, and during the 90's, when I was curious about the character, DC was in the middle of experimenting with both good girl and bad girl art on the title.  But when Phil Jimenez came on Wonder Woman,  I couldn't help but notice the covers weren't cheesecake, the stories were different from everything else I was reading, and when I flipped through the comics, the art was absolutely stunning.  I became a fan of the character thanks to the work of Jimenez, and then had a lot of work to do catching up.