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

Friday, May 20, 2016

So, I guess that was "Legends of Tomorrow"

the thing burning in the back is the show's internal logic


As I kind of suspected, DC's Legends of Tomorrow did start to feel less like a plodding mess in the final 3-4 episodes of the show.  They had their beginning and they had their ending, but they didn't have a middle, and that was no good for anybody.

Really, if we're being honest, the show made no sense.  Time travel is a ridiculously complicated contrivance, and once you start making up arbitrary rules for your time travel story - rules clearly there so that the story can occur and not just end because you got in your time machine and flew back to the past and killed Hitler in his bed - you've kind of already lost the game.  Especially when your time-travel device is also a space-faring vehicle.

Since last I posted on the show, I've really been hate-watching it, because - and I am sorry earnest TV watcher who was truly moved by the unfolding story of Rip Hunter and his gang of renegade time-travelers - it got just hysterically bad at some point.

The past five or six episodes, Jamie and I took to both playing the role of "Vandal Savage explains to the characters how they could end this right now" in terrible Danish accents, but it made the show so, so much more watchable

At some point, a few things became obvious to me:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DC Comics gets a new logo. So... this means... what, exactly?



Blah blah blah...

DC Comics has a new logo.

It's certainly not as "we might sell paper like Dunder-Mifflin" as the last DC Logo.  Or as hopelessly detergent-label-like as the prior.  But there's not a lot of standards to go with in this realm.  The big, chunky red Marvel logo isn't really... much of anything, either, so let's not get too excited in the compare and contrast department.

the logo that screams "'fun', as defined in Appendix C of the PDF attachment in Tuesday's email"


Like a lot of other folks, I looked at the new one up top and said "huh, interesting they went Bronze Age with it".  Because a bit of a throw-back to those early 1970's logos DOES say what you want to say to fans about respecting the past, and the fun of that past - something DC hasn't just had a problem with, but has aggressively trampled over the past 5 years.  But it IS new-er-ish.  They're not just endeavoring into a revival of a period which is remembered fondly, but would make no sense in 2016.  Mostly, unlike the DC Fold, it's also squarely not the sort of thing that would look at home on a box of 3.5" diskettes in 1994, either.  But maybe a loaf of bread from a company that hasn't changed it's packaging since, well, 1974.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In Memoriam Watch: Justice League - The New Frontier (2008)



With the passing of Darwyn Cooke, I had my quick appreciation write-up, and on Sunday, as I was eating my oatmeal and pondering the fact I had to work all afternoon, Jamie pitched watching the animated version of Cooke's comics classic, Justice League: The New Frontier (2008).

For a while there, I was purchasing every single new DVD WB Animation pushed out as DC got into the feature-length animated film business.  These days I limit my actual purchases (my last purchase being Flashpoint, which seemed as good a place to jump off DC Entertainment in many-a-ways), but I have a pretty good run of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Justice League videos.  And, as I type this, why the hell didn't they ever make a Flash movie?  It seems like an obvious fit.

But I don't think I'd actually watched this disk in something like 6 years.

Monday, May 16, 2016

20th Anniversary of DC Comics' "Kingdom Come"



This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first issue of Kingdom Come, the prestige 4-issue, oft re-issued, comic by creators Alex Ross (artist) and Mark Waid (writer).

It's extremely difficult for me to state how much of an impact this comic had on me as a reader at the time of it's release.  In fact, I'd argue it was one of the comics that came out at a particular time in my life that tilted me from an interest in comics and enthusiastic readership to... whatever it became.  Further, I'd say that Kingdom Come stands as one of the key books that pushed me from thinking Superman was pretty neat to...  whatever my deal is with The Man of Steel today.

By 1996, I just wasn't that interested in superhero comics.  It seemed like a lot of books were trying to pull things off that weren't working, and, honestly, at age 21, glancing over the covers - a sense of creeping embarrassment hit me for the first time in my life in regards to comics.  Not for the hobby or comics themselves, but it seemed that, in the mainline superhero books, writers and artists and the companies themselves had a vision they were trying to execute, and that vision felt like a 13-year-old trying on their dad's suit thinking they could con the bank into giving them a loan.

By '93, a brave new world of tough, militaristic, snarling characters had flooded the shelves.  New publishers had arrived with fully formed concepts and universes, clearly either inspired as "extreme" versions of existing characters, or taking their cues from the artwork on heavy metal album covers (which, you know, how could you fault them?).  And at DC and Marvel, familiar characters were getting changed and rebooted (see: Azrael Batman) to reflect the times.  To me, the stories themselves lacked anything resembling narrative sophistication or substance, taking a Canon Films approach to violence and vitriol and mistaking it for maturity.  The plots were sophomoric at best, and adding spiked shoulder pads to pre-existing characters did nothing to sell me on their new grittiness.  I'll never forget cackling my way through the 1994 Dr. Fate reboot, Fate, wherein the hero turns the all-powerful helmet of Dr. Fate into a knife.  So he can cut things!  To the extreme!*

Meanwhile, Karen Berger had set up Vertigo at DC and was putting out HellblazerShade: The Changing ManAnimal ManSwamp ThingThe Invisibles, and, of course, Sandman and Sandman Mystery Theatre.  I didn't think I had to look too far to see characters who were telling me they were for older readers - they simply were the sophistication (or what passed for it) that felt like the proper heirs to the Moore legacy.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Darwyn Cooke Merges With The Infinite - #RIPDarwynCooke



Just yesterday we heard that Darwyn Cooke had entered palliative care in the last stages of cancer, and by the time I went to bed, the internet was telling me we that we have lost Darwyn Cooke, comics artist and writer.

2016 seems intent on taking my favorite artists from the world before their time.

It seemed to me Cooke was properly appreciated by comics enthusiasts, and a favorite in the creator community as a solid guy.

His art is making its way around the internet, and you won't have to look far for the next 72 hours to see all of us posting our favorite pieces.  I'll focus here on his DC work and his work with Richard Stark's Parker novels.

Perhaps the best known of his works is DC's New Frontier, the Jet Age re-imagining of the origin of the Justice League of America, featuring all the mainstay players and some more-forgotten characters of the JFK/ pop explosion era of DC.  If you've never read it, it's available out there in print and digital.  And, it was adapted into a feature length cartoon film a few years back.

Cooke's art tilted toward iconographic cartooning, and fit no house style at DC, even as it clearly fit the aesthetic and mood of the DCU on the sunniest of days.  Both retro and modern, his style borrowing heavily from the pop-art style of late-50/ early-60's illustration, with the nuance of line to manage expression and convey more in a face than 95% of comics artists.

During an era when DC Comics and comics in general are on a swing back toward projecting a world view of fire, chaos, and gnashing teeth for all of their characters, Cooke still found a place in the comics world to show a DC Universe infused with hope.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: The Caped Crusade - Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (audiobook, 2016)



Here's what I know after reading Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (2016) - I would love to spend a couple hours at a bar with author Glen Weldon knocking back a couple of cocktails and talking comics.  

The book is a perfect compliment to the sort of discussion we've been having here at The Signal Watch the past few years, from our Gen-X Recollection Project (still ongoing!  Send in your posts!), to trying to contextualize what we see in movies of the past and present as seasoned dorks.  

As a matter of course, I've read a few Superman retrospectives, but very few feel like an honest conversation.  Les Daniels' works read like what they are - honest if fairly sanitary historical accounts of the rise of Superman in all media.  The very-well-selling Larry Tye book felt like a lot of research into something the author felt would move books but for which he had little personal affinity and seemed surprised that Superman wasn't the character he remembered from his years watching The Adventures of Superman.  Author Tom De Haven has the strangest relationship with Superman, having written a full novel re-imagining the character from the ground up (in ways that often seemed far, far off the mark), and then a sort of retrospective that made it clear - he kinda hates Superman.

But aside from Les Daniels and a few excerpts in books like Ten Cent Plague and Men of Tomorrow, I haven't read up as much on Batman.  I actually heard of author Glen Weldon when he put out a book called Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.  I purchased the book, but hadn't read it as I had a stack of books I was making it through.  Still haven't read it, honestly, aside from the first few pages, which had me cackling in recognition of someone who truly knew their Superman.  But, two days after I picked up the Superman book, Weldon announced on twitter his Batman book was coming, and as I'd just finished the Tye Superman book, I figured - I'll just wait for that one.

I really can't recommend Caped Crusade enough.  This is a "run, don't walk" sort of recommendation.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

That Supergirl/ Flash Meet-Up on CBS's "Supergirl"



Pick a tone, DC Entertainment.

I was never a fan of the "two heroes meet, fight, realize it's all a mistake and then go off to fight a common threat" trope of comics.  So, yes, just seeing the title of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice literally told me everything I didn't need to see in the WB opus (now down over 70% in ticket sales from last weekend).  It literally makes no sense for a person dedicated to improving things for other people to start a conversation by throwing a punch at someone else's head.  Frankly, it always kind of diminishes whatever I'm reading when the writers get lazy and that's the path they follow.

Yeah, even "Superman meets Spider-Man".*

I've been a fan of The CW's The Flash since episode 1, and I continue to enjoy the heck out of that show.  From this DC nerd's perspective, this is how you update a character and make the concept work in another medium with different needs than the comic page or context of National Comics in the Jet Age.  If you're going to change up Barry's origin story a bit, this makes sense, and I like the family with which they're surrounded Barry, both the Wests and his "work family", made up of repurposed C and D listers.

The show is far from relentlessly cheerful - villains are a threat, and we've had two seasons with serious arcs casting a shadow over the events of everything else.   But the core characters don't wallow in self-imposed pity parties and comply with the notion that being a jerk is a prerequisite to intelligence or depth of character (it seems Arrow is continuing to struggle with how to dig themselves out of that hole).  Barry and Co.'s ability to keep on going and improve things for themselves and the world is at the heart of what I like about ongoing superhero comics.

I wrote more than one post regarding the rocky start to CBS's Supergirl, but at some point the show started getting a grip on what it is and could be.  Once it dropped some of the standard soapy TV tropes and got on with the business of superheroing, it's been on a gradual incline of watchability.  They dropped the lame "nice guy" storyline for Win, and, to my great satisfaction, the seemingly one-dimensional character of Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart) blossomed immediately into a mentor character for Supergirl and her alter ego.  And, of course, the long game of naming Hank Henshaw as leader of this DEO business pulled a switcheroo and turned out to be a huge highlight of the season as the character turned out not to be the ridiculous Cyborg Superman but Martian Manhunter.**

I never disliked the cast of Supergirl, but CBS applied a lot of old-hat tricks, believing they knew how to make the show work for the broadest audience, but it seemed outdated and a drag on the show's velocity.  And, while I'm not sure we're getting a second season (it hasn't been renewed so far as I know), a second season could get down to brass tacks and be quite fun.  Plus, they've said Lynda Carter could play the President next season, which this site heartily endorses.  It could be a lot of fun.

And there's that word.  Fun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Before Comics Were Cool - The Gen-X Recollection Project: Jason C.

We are thrilled to have the participation of Jason C. here for the Gen-X Recollection Project.

Jason is a recently published author, a former co-worker, a former collaborator from my days at Comic Fodder, holds a PhD in English, a software developer and all around good guy.  Oddly, before I met Jason, I'd read part of his dissertation as it made the rounds in the geek-o-sphere as he discussed DC Comics as a collaborative shared universe through the lens of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It was an odd moment when Jason and I were first chatting at work and I realized he was the guy who wrote that dissertation.*

Also, it turned out Jason was in grad school at the same time as my boss and they're pals.  Sometimes Austin, TX is a very small world.

Recently, Jason published his first novel, Old Green World. which is very reasonably priced at Amazon.

But, enough about me.  Here's Jason's narrative of how things went down.



I don't remember my first comic, but I'll tell you the first comics that I remember. A crisis happened every summer, late in the summer, around when the pool was getting routine. The Justice League would visit every year with the Justice Society. The Justice Society were the old heroes, the aunts and uncles and grandparents from World War II. It was a family reunion. The Justice League lived on Earth-1, and the Justice Society on Earth-2, but they would travel to see one another through a dimensional portal. When the portal went wrong, it was a crisis. The portal always went wrong. Every year.

ed. note:  Owl Man's original costume is insane


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DC Comics details #DCRebirth, we look at Superman and... So many questions (not necessarily in a good way)

Thank Hera, WW is back in gold.  But what's with the blue boots on Supes?


Over the weekend at something called WonderCon, DC Comics used the Comic Convention platform to do what they used to do back before videogames and movies gentrified CCI/ San Diego - they actually delivered some fairly large comics news.

It's no secret to retailers or readers that DC Comics' line of titles has been in a creative hole of despair for going on 5 years, and sales have taken a related major nose-dive in the past two years despite incentive covers and as much Harley Quinn as DC could print.  The ill-conceived Convergence event of Summer 2015 gave anyone on the fence the opportunity to get the hell out of there, and, abandon DC they did.

It wasn't too hard to figure that after DC moved to the new West Coast offices many things would change, that the real-world stresses of moving would put any ability to react to sales issues on the back burner, but, once everyone was settled, they'd immediately begin planning.

The final product of a few months of brian-storming is now revealed:  DC Comics Rebirth.

So, what is Rebirth?

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Light of "Superman vs: Batman" - What is the Point of Film Criticism?


Batman ponders the Super Package


Although perhaps less so every year in a world of constantly sub-divided attention, movies and television are the modern cultural touchstones.  More than news, political figures or even war, there's nothing like a $400 million dollar movie to get everyone around the world doing the same thing on a Saturday.  International dominance of American cinema means that films transcend boundaries and political ideologies as Hollywood carefully crafts non-political films with standard "good v evil" tropes, without ever casting a particular point of view, aside from "evil menace" as the bad guy.

We aren't all just film viewers, we are all film reviewers.  We see a film, we consider that film against other films, source material and our particular perspective.  Sometimes we write that thought down.  The job requires no credentialing, and while some people are paid to look at movies, sum them up and say a few words about the relative merit of a film, others do this endlessly, fruitlessly on their own (cough), but it is something we all do mentally.  We are all ready to write a column for the local paper.  We all have the best, most nuanced of opinions.

Most of what you see in the press I think of as "reviewers" more than "critics".  Somehow, someway, those folks parlayed an interest in going to a bunch of movies every week into a job where they then must writer 1000 words about that movie.  A review contains a synopsis, who stars in a movie, and some sort of opinion about the movie.  Some make it colorful - and in this era of  anyone with a keyboard having the ability to publish, you gotta write some colorful stuff to get clicks.

How to separate a critic from a reviewer?

Well, a reviewer is a person with a local newspaper column or a website.  It's me.  It's you.  Your aunt who posts things to facebook.

There are two definitions of critic, I think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CBS's "Supergirl" Seems Markedly Better



Against my better instincts, I kept tuning in week after week to CBS's entrance into the superhero game, Supergirl.  In all honesty, I didn't think the show would last, so I figured I could stick with it for a season and call it a day.  The show would demonstrate these bits of promise, and then revert back to the disappointing formula blend it seemed the network wanted to enforce - all of which seemed out of step with what might make the show work.

None of what I think has an impact on ratings, and I don't know how large or small the actual audience is for the program.  I hear things about falling ratings, but then I'm told its been renewed, so someone has faith in it.

I was pretty hard on this show when it started.  If I can give it grief, I can say some positive things as well.  And there's been good on the show in ways I've found pleasantly surprising - especially on network TV.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Geoff Johns Offers Vision of DCU "Rebirth" Didio will @#$% Up Before Issue 1

New day.  Same company.

DC Comics, in a sales death spiral, continues to not fire the people making the same terrible decisions they've been making for well over a decade.  On Thursday, DC Comics released a video of famed comics writer and live-action area liaison, Geoff Johns talking the mysterious "Rebirth" event hinted at by DC Comics Publisher Dan Didio via an obnoxious image released via twitter a couple of weeks ago.

this isn't even no data, this is negative data


This week is a sort of comics retailers meeting in Portland, OR, and DC has to say something to make retailers think the shoddy output and related plummeting sales of their company currently running comic shops right into the ground is due for am upturn.  Knowing that Dan Didio has about the same level of credibility as the Sham-Wow guy (and Jim Lee is, let's be honest, not great at this sort of thing), at least for the public face they put good ol' Geoff Johns out there in front with a video and some announcements about new price points, new #1's and a return to the numbering on Detective and Action Comics.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

TV Watch: Legends of Tomorrow



Oh, man.  So many mixed feelings about this show.

Here's what I think:  If I hadn't been reading superhero comics for 30-odd years, this thing would seem fresh as a daisy  Lots of superheroes having an adventure, living a little, learning a little, comparing and contrasting themselves, speaking entirely in exposition.  It genuinely has the pacing and plotless weaving of a real DC Comics crossover event comic, complete with all the clunky dialog and trying to do too much with too many characters in too little time, and you kind of stick it out through the parts that don't work (which are many), because when it does work, it's a lot of fun.  And, it may actually "count", depending on how well received the thing winds up.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Atlantic Takes DC to Task for Dropping the Ball with Superman

Whether you get around to reading my comments below or not, it's probably worth looking at this article in The Atlantic.  This is a fairly serious and well respected news and opinion source, and it's calling out DC Comics/ Entertainment for their poor handling of Superman in the past few decades.  A topic near and dear to my heart.

faster than microwaving his popcorn


I was awake and moving for all of 30 minutes Sunday morning before I looked at my phone and saw my brother sent the link to the story.  Honestly, I kind of rolled my eyes at the headline.  The past twenty or more years have been full of articles in places, both reputable and otherwise, writing about how and why Superman was no longer relevant.  Too goody-goody.  Not po-mo or meta enough.  Not "edgy" enough for today's gnarly kids and their totally radical view of bad-ass-dom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In Defense of Bizarro: Me Am Think Bizarro Is Worst Character Ever

So, I watched Monday evening's episode of Supergirl on CBS, and while heartened that the episode introduced the idea of Bizarro for a new generation, I'm also wondering what they're leaving for Superman himself at this point, or what they think Superman has been up to as they keep introducing all of his villains on the show like they've never been around before.

But, no harm no foul.  

If I took exception to the episode, it was that we had a BINO.  Bizarro In Name Only.

Good-bye!  Me am not comics version of Bizarro-Girl!

If you've unfamiliar with Superman's sometimes enemy/ sometimes pal, Bizarro, well, firstly, I pity you.  Secondly, in the original comics, Bizarro was an imperfect duplicate of Superboy and, soon, Superman.  The angular-faced misfit was a perfect fit with the bi-polar nature of Superman's Silver Age adventures.

In the wake of the Senate hearings and the installation of the Comics Code Authority - we ended Superman threatening people and hurling them around violently and the comics explored what it meant for Superman to be the Last Son of Krypton as well as a Superman with time to kill since crime was abruptly held in check.  The Man of Steel was now having a good laugh moving the Eiffel Tower around to mess with Lois one story, and in the second feature was openly weeping about the fate of his birth parents.

Equal parts clown, monster, hero, villain, misunderstood child and wreckless menace, Bizarro was the wild card in the Superman deck in an era of Superman comics littered with Robot Supermans, Supergirls, Super Cats and Dogs, King Kongs with Death Laser Eyes and routine occurrences of Superman being turned into a baby.  I haven't even gotten to Jimmy Olsen's Silver Age lifestyle and all that insanity.  And, yet, it all fit together pretty well.

Bizarro first appeared as a one-off in Superboy #68, but soon re-appeared in the mainline Superman titles where he gained his own supporting cast and planet.  Hell, yes, he did.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Oh, holy @#$%. DC Comics looks to be rebooting. Again. Again. Again. Again.



Look, I don't really read any DC Comics any more.  Which, yeah...   I know, right?

And I have gotten quite tired of saying that watching DC Comics as a publisher/ company/ whatever is waaaaay more interesting than their output.

But what I do know is that for the past year or so, DC's sales have been sliding like mad, and my guess is that even the current milking of Dark Knight Returns with the inconceivably named third volume The Master Race, isn't working out quite as planned.

"I just keep failing upward!"


Anyway, rumors were a-hopping today at Bleeding Cool that a line-wide reboot was in the works.  Heidi opined on this over at Comics Beat.

Then, Didio and Lee both tweeted a kind of stupid looking image of a blue curtain with the word "Rebirth" projected onto the curtain.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Your Obligatory "Batman y Superman: Something Something Hey! Wonder Woman!" trailer post



Yup. That is definitely a trailer for a movie that is coming out.

And, yup, WB finally (finally!) got Doomsday on-screen as a Lex Luthor product. They've been wanting to do that since I was in college.