Showing posts with label Flash. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flash. Show all posts

Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Finally Read "Rebirth" and Here Is What We Think (SPOILERS)



I did not love every living word and panel of DC's mea culpa in comic form, but it made me realize how long it has been since I've read a new comic book from DC and didn't feel like I needed to just put it down and walk away.  If Rebirth succeeded on any level - it did not make me kind of sad while I was reading it, nor think "well, this is what they're doing these days, and the kids seem to like it, so I guess this is DC Comics now".  I got to just mostly enjoy a DC Comic, even enjoy the familiar frustration of "well, now how is THAT going to work?" as I looked at some of what the book was pitching as the new direction for DC Comics publishing line.

It's been a few days, so I really don't think I need to explain what Rebirth is, except to my brother - so, Jason:  That New 52 thing I've been whining about the past few years?  Turns out sales have been plummeting line-wide for DC since the first year or so, and they've decided that maybe they went too far in the "grim n' gritty" comics direction, and now they're remembering that the idea behind superheroes is that they're a force for positive change.  So, starting here, DC is trying to wrap up the New 52 as a direction for the publishing line while remaining basically in continuity.  They'll start by renumbering most series (again) and remember that it's kind of a bummer to read about people in tights running about feeling miserable every second of the day, so, maybe stop with the endless pyrrhic victories and mopey heroes.

The "Rebirth" brand at DC was never one of rebooting.  In both Flash Rebirth and Green Lantern Rebirth, continuity remained intact, but DC brought back longstanding characters and principles to characters and concepts that had strayed from the sort of Platonic ideal of those characters.  In Flash, we saw the return of Barry Allen full time for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Wally, Bart, Jay and everyone else would be around, but Barry was our focal Flash - complete with a new backstory that didn't reflect the pre-Crisis DCU continuity (Nora Allen was murdered).  Green Lantern saw the return of Hal Jordan to the land of the living, the Parallax storyline transmogrified into epic space opera that spun out the colored rings.  Both of these I enjoyed.  

Rebirth is not another Crisis.   It seems to be retaining the New 52 continuity, so far anyway, and is really not so much an answer as a gigantic question mark both from a story and editorial perspective.  Or, rather, a series of questions marks or possible paths for all of us who walked away from DC to consider what teasers from the books we'd be interested in pursuing with our dollars.

Everything from here below contains spoilers.  You're on your own if you keep reading.

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.

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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wherein I just gush about "The Flash"

I keep meaning to write a post about Fargo,currently airing on FX.  But, for right now, I just recommend you watch the hell out of that show.  But I suspect writing about Fargo will take a super long time, I'm not going to do that tonight.  And, I'm not going to talk about Supergirl, which was actually not half-bad on Monday.

Instead, because its a Tuesday and its fun as hell to discuss, let's talk about The Flash.

this is not the actual Flash, btw


There are a large number of reasons I tune in every week to see the Scarlet Speedster, and I don't think I talk about it enough, but Grant Gustin is actually really pretty great as Barry Allen.  The guy has taken a character that comic nerds always insisted was "boring" (a diagnosis I never fully understood), and found the kind of guy it would take to be The Flash.  I know, it's crazy to think that a level-headed person with a sense of responsibility would put on tights as readily as the now omni-present anti-hero, but Gustin and a crack writing team have managed to make Barry a buyable, believable character in the middle of a very, very strange world.

And, speaking of strange...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flash Watch: Season 2 - Episode 2 "Flash of Two Worlds"

In my book, there are a few places you can say that really changed comics.  The publication of New Fun Comics, Action Comics #1, Detective #27, Sensation Comics #1, Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen...  stuff like that.

We can break down how each of those changed comics, and some were in large, cultural shift-y kinds of ways, while others took more time to reveal themselves.




Flash #123 is one of the places you can put your finger on that changed comic books in ways no one anticipated at the time.  Pretty remarkable that between the first appearance of Barry Allen in Showcase #4, which I'm saying is the start of the Silver Age, circa October 1956, and the Flash of Two Worlds issue, circa 1961, we saw two huge changes in the state of comics thanks to one character (and, I'd argue, to a lesser extent in how Barry Allen dealt with his villains in those early issues).  Today, it's almost impossible to imagine modern comics from any publisher without the concept of a multiverse (see Marvel's current Secret Wars event or the many worlds of Archie Comics).

The multiverse exploded the possibilities for comics, for alternate universes, and became a staple of sci-fi in everything from Star Trek's "Mirror, Mirror" episode to the existence of shows like Sliders and Fringe.  And, of course, is part of mainstream physics at this moment in time.

Before we get too far into discussing how cool I find the multiverse, I want to also mention that I have a tremendous amount of affection, in general, for the characters of the Flash titles, and Jay Garrick of the Silver Age and Jay Garrick of the post COIE/ pre-New-52 definitely falls into that category.

So, of course, it was tremendously fun to see Jay put on the helmet on a legitimate TV show.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flash Watch: Season 2 - Episode 1 "The Man Who Saved Central City"

Last year I tuned into the CW hour-long superhero action/drama The Flash expecting the same crippling disappointment I've found with most things DC Comics in recent years, Dark Knight Trilogy aside.   At my core, I always want these things to work, so you got to show up and see what they do.  And, in this case, I think The Flash is doing it right.



Sure, the show dabbles in some of the angst and romantic melodrama you've come to expect from the network that turned Superman into a weepy teen for a solid decade with Smallville, but unlike doe-eyed Superman, this show understood that a program needs momentum, not endless circling of the drain when it comes to character and plot development.

Of course, the creatives behind The Flash was never embarrassed of the source material to begin with, but then they went ahead and just swung for the fences, because Barry Allen does not do "slow burn".  In Season 1 we got a huge amount of the Flash's Rogues Gallery on screen, up to and including Gorilla Grodd (and I got Captain Cold, who is secretly one of my favorite villains anywhere in comics).  And we saw a lot of other DC heroes running around, like Firestorm.  All of that would have been a lot of fluff and of no consequence, if, at the center of it, we didn't also get a pretty solid story about a kid who saw his mother die in a blur of mysterious red and yellow, and saw a man in yellow kill his mother right in front of him.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Flash, Season 2 debuts Tuesday!

I don't talk about the character as much as Superman or Wonder Woman, but I think it's been pretty clear to longtime readers that I'm a fan of DC's speedster dynasty and the whole Flash concept.  From when Carmine Infantino drew his first strobe-image of Barry Allen in motion, this was a book that looked pretty straightforward, but which got really weird, really fast way back in the Silver Age, and it never turned back.*

And, lest we forget, the whole concept of a multi-verse in comics was spawned in the classic "Flash of Two Worlds" story in The Flash #123, back in 1961.

Speaking of, Tuesday sees the season premier of The Flash as it enters its sophomore year.  And, look who shows up:

hell, yes
Jay Garrick has been vital to the Barry Allen Flash comics since that 1961 issue, and it's awesome to see he'll get screentime and, I hope, a recurring role.

Last season was the most fun I had watching any one TV show.  Maybe it's not as intricate and adult as Mad Men or The Americans, but it does exactly what I want a Flash TV show to do - be super weird, have lots of fun twists and turns, use super speed in new ways all the time, and make Barry Allen an all right kind of guy.

They threw everything at the wall last season, and it mostly worked.  Now we see what happens when they don't just worry about time-travel, they worry about the multiverse.  Let's hope this isn't the season where they drop the ball.

Here's some posters:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Whole Lotta TV: Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, Batman, Americans, Mad Men, Flash and more - keeping me from movies

I realized I hadn't been posting a whole lot, at least not about movies.  But I've also been watching a metric @#$%-ton of TV lately.

Like a lot of you, I heard the Tina Fey produced Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was pretty good, and at 22 minutes per episode, only 13 episodes and that each one was like eating a box of Hot Tamales or Mike & Ike's, it was the first series I've binge-watched since I was home with the flu and watched 2 seasons of Archer.


A concept that, no doubt, HBO would have insisted been a brooding melodrama with plenty of sexual dysfunction and nihilism, this take on "what happens when a girl is kidnapped at 14 and doesn't leave her bunker cult layer until she's 29ish?" is, instead, super upbeat, life-affirming and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  The brand of humor feels akin to the dizzy chaos of early 30 Rock, and even if we only ever get these 13 episodes, they were pretty damn enjoyable.  But, yeah, I guess there's a second season guaranteed by Netflix (where the show is living), so I'm down with that.

Anyway, it's not often I watch 13 episodes of something so fast I don't even mention it between start and finish, but there you are.

And before we move on:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anyone else watching "The Flash" on CW?

After 10 years of Smallville and trying Arrow once or twice (I think because they were introducing Crazy Quilt or something.  I forget.), I was pretty skeptical about the CW's spin-off Arrow series, The Flash.

But, look.  I read some of the Wally West Flash comics a bit when I was a kid, and I like The Flash as a concept.  Truthfully, I am totally okay with any DC character who has had the name, from Jay to Bart.  Because of my comics habits of the time when it was going, I missed Waid's run (which is not collected in hardbacks, which kills me a little), but I got back into Flash during Geoff Johns' run and never really looked back.

Since then I've read all of the Flash stuff collected in Showcase Presents (I think.  I need to double-check), and these days, I'm a pretty solid fan of Barry Allen, especially those first few years when it really did feel like a different kind of book.  Look, no kidding.  Barry was so... nice, I guess, that the character gets a bad rap as being "boring", but I really don't find a whole lot of boring in those early Silver Age books.  Mostly, they were a sort of conceptual exercise to begin with as The Flash was largely about villains and the really pretty awesome things the writers came up with to do with superspeed.  And then...  They did something a little different in that Barry kind of knew his villains.  Maybe not best pals, but they were his, and he actually worked to rehabilitate a few of them (yes, Batman, I'm looking at you...).

I wasn't against Barry coming back to the DCU a few years ago, but I will admit to not keeping up with The Flash in the new 52.

Oh, and I actually watched The Flash (starring the terrific John Wesley Shipp) during it's run back when I was in high school.  The Flash and Amanda Pays on a single show?  Twist my arm.



What I considered, before setting the DVR, was: if Johns was working on the show - and he knows his Flash - how bad could it be?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carmine Infantino Races into The Infinite

Reports are coming out that Carmine Infantino, original artist of the Silver Age Flash comics - and so, so many other comics - has passed.



If you can, pick up the Flash Chronicles books or the Showcase Presents: The Flash collections.  It's not just the stories that are great (and they are), but it's Infantino's visualizations of Barry Allen's powers brought to life, managing the panel-by-panel aspect of comics to keep the reader on pace with Barry when necessary and coming up with other techniques - like the "many Flashes in a single panel" technique that was even spoofed in an early episode of The Big Bang Theory.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Justice League - Doom

A few items before we begin.

1.  This movie was based on Mark Waid's tremendous Tower of Babel storyline in JLA that was amazing enough that it was adapted for the movie.  The story was powerful enough that it crept into the entire DCU, and launched us into Infinite Crisis circa 2006.

Oddly, this story is rarely discussed, and Mark Waid is featured not-at-all on the Blu-Ray, and in my viewing, I missed his name, and I was looking for it.

2.  This was also the final work by writer Dwayne McDuffie, who adapted Waid's story.  It shows his trademark ability to translate continuity-heavy DC work into much more workable stories for the 85 minute films.  It also demonstrates his ability to make the dialog sound plausible and build genuine character moments.  And I am going to miss the hell out of seeing his name on motion pictures, television and comics.

3.  On the heels of yesterday's post, I am reminded that there will be no shortage of DCE material for me to enjoy, and the small fee I paid for this Blu-Ray was less than what I'd pay for a tradepaperback.  I believe I paid about $15.


So, yesterday I purchased and read Justice League #6 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee*, and I'd submit to them that they wrote just about the least interesting Justice League story I'd paged through since...  I dunno, maybe the 80's.  While I am torn regarding my loyalty to Mark Waid and my love of the original comics the movie Justice League: Doom was based upon, I can say - Johns and Lee did nothing over 6 issues but demonstrate that they don't know how to put together a compelling story with stakes, character or motivations, nor did they seem to understand that a hallmark of Justice League stories since Grant Morrison took the Pepsi Challenge circa 1997 was a constant ratcheting up of stakes and intensity.  I give you Morrison's insane epic, World War III or, for that matter, Final Crisis.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 13


I've not read this issue of Flash by Mark Waid, and I've got to find a way to correct that before Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 9


...why is Santa so HUGE?  And shouldn't Wonder Woman put on some pants if she's going to sit down in the snow?

So, so many questions...

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Pre-Schoolers compose songs about Superman and Flash

An old chum of mine now lives in Seattle.  Apparently he's putting the words of Pre-Schoolers to music and performing them. 

This song is about the time Superman and Flash ran into a couple of large mammals in a cave.

Scroll to the bottom of the linked page to hear the song (its about 1:30).

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Potpourri of Random Bits

Off to Sweet FLA

So, tomorrow I am off to Orlando, Florida.  I am attending a small, but nation-wide conference of folks interested in theses and dissertations.  Its a part of what we do at my office, this business of dealing with how universities accept electronic copies of theses and dissertations, process them and put them into internet repositories.

I am actually presenting, which is always fun.  If you people think I like shooting my mouth off here, give me a live audience that can't leave.  The conference is right next to Disney World, but I think its a little creepy for a guy in his mid-30's to spend time alone in the Magic Kingdom, so I will likely be taking a pass on all that.  That said, I LOVE Disney World.  I really do.  Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Hall of Presidents, Future World, Donald Duck, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto...  the whole shebang.  Very fond memories of going with my family as a kid, and very fond memories of going with Jamie about 11 years ago.  Wow.  Like, exactly 11 years ago.

So, I have no idea what my blogging schedule will be.

On the plane I'm taking two books:  1)  American Gods, which I've started but not finished, and 2) The Long Fall, which Jason read and it sounds exactly like something I'd enjoy, so...

Flashpoint

I hadn't planned to read DC's summer series, Flashpoint, as it was released, but its starting to sound like if you aren't up to speed when this thing ends, the DCU could be a confusing place for sometime.  I was planning to pick up the Lois Lane spin-off, so I might as well grab the main series.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Superman #709

SUPERMAN 709
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI & CHRIS ROBERSON
Art by EDDY BARROWS & J.P. MAYER
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY

For the record:  I suspect The Flash is quite a bit faster than Superman
One of my favorite comics is the original Superman/ Flash race, and I keep a copy of that issue in a frame on my wall.  You aren't going to get an objective review out of me when you add The Flash and Superman together.  And you will then see me suggesting you check out:
In this issue, Superman's trek takes him to Colorado where we find Superman wrapping things up after an off-panel team-up with Super-Chief.  And here I'd like to digress...

I'd love to see a new Superman Family book like we had back in the day, including the B-listers, supporting casts and to give creators a chance to work on characters like the aforementioned "Super-Chief" (and I find the idea that Green Bay has a super-hero pretty awesome/ hilarious).  Why DC hasn't launched anthology books for the Super and Bat-books is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery...

But if Roberson is wondering - yes, I'd pay money to see more of Super-Chief (but will not pay to see Supertramp).

Anyway...

Superman enters Boulder, Colorado where the world around him begins changing to a replica of Krypton.  Squinting, Superman's supervision detects that its Barry Allen/ Flash working at super-super-speed to construct costumes and replicas of Krypton's past so quickly, the full scale changes are happening in the blink of an eye, while Barry recites Kryptonian history at super-super-speed.

I'm not really interested in spoilers or rehashing the plot, but there is a bit of a Flash/ Superman race in the story, and that is a good thing.

I've commented before how Roberson's stories seem to harken back to the Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates stories I've only really become familiar with in the last four years or so (thanks, back-issue bins!), and the splash on page 4 of this issue just screams "Bronze Age" to me.  And that is a good thing.  

As I grew older, had a job, etc...  something I liked about the line of DC characters was that: where Marvel's books (especially X-Men) maintained the feeling of getting jammed together like high schoolers, DC's characters had an interesting collegiality about them, especially when Morrison and Waid were handling the JLA title.  Sitting at the JLA conference table with coffee while talking about how to deal with a crisis actually made complete sense to me, and seeing them call one another by their first name was always a reminder that these characters knew and trusted one another, but that they could be honest with each other (how many other people get to call Batman "Bruce" when he's in the mask?  There's something to that.).

A civil conversation between Flash and Superman is a welcome moment in the story, just old friends having a bite - even if its at superspeed.  Even if I felt that Marvel's characters were a bit high-school-ish, Marvel always understood that unless you have those character moments, the stories don't matter.  DC definitely tilts toward plot-driven tales, but if we can't see who Superman and The Flash are...  why would anyone care?  And isn't it easier to speak in the broad terms found on message boards and comment sections if you can't point to the specifics found in these sorts of scenes?

Its refreshing to see Flash just be up-front with Superman about his recent trauma, and how he's not surprised if Clark is a bit off.  As much as the JLA can be about bringing together a strategically superior fighting force (which... okay, that's every team book) it can also be a place to acknowledge the similarities and differences of these icons as characters.*  This was something Brad Meltzer was about to do with his JLA re-launch, but, man... did people not get what he was up to. 

The issue also gets bonus points for references to Barry's awakening to his own powers (the first use of his superspeed was catching a falling tray of food in a diner), but will likely be best known for the already-famous insertion of the internet meme "Lex Luthor took 40 cakes" directly into the story.  And that is terribly awesome.

Also, this issue may go down in history as being the one who's preview featuring a Superman/ Flash race got so heated in the comment section that DC finally killed the comments on their own blog.  Slow clap, comics fans.

Roberson does what he's done remarkably well since taking over the title:  he's repurposed the Grounded storyline and actually played off the weaknesses in JMS's original plan, addressing where JMS went wrong "in story" and made it part of the narrative. 

I suspect that this issue, which drops a few hints at the "and something is very wrong with Superman" is the breather en route to the conclusion of Grounded.  We don't have all that many issues left to go, and one would suspect that with the Doomsday storyline happening in Action and other titles, we're due for a big conclusion here. 

I mentioned in a previous column (not a Superman review) that I had written DC a letter asking that they consider keeping Chris Roberson on the Superman title after the conclusion of Grounded.  I'd reiterate that sentiment here.  Roberson gets the character of Superman as well as any I've seen handed the keys to the kingdom, and it would be a shame to see DC pull the plug on he and Paul Cornell in Action Comics when those books are as strong as they've been in decades.


*which is one of my primary reasons for believing JLA should always feature a team that includes a minimum of 4 of the original 7.  Otherwise its a band touring as The Beach Boys, but without a single founding member.