Saturday, November 20, 2010

DCU Animated Series "Young Justice" coming Nov. 26th

Late Edit 11/30/2010 - I keep getting hits to this post, which I wrote before the show aired. I actually reviewed the show shortly after broadcast.

There hasn't honestly been much in the way of press release stuff to the usual comic outlets about this new show, but that's okay. I get the basic gist of what they're doing, and I like the design. A sort of post "The Batman", post "Bruce Timm-style JLU" look, but building on the sort of classic DCU that the cartoons have been doing better than the comics for all but a year or two in there since Waid left JLA.

While there was value to the recent animated adaptation of Teen Titans to cartoons, I think its smart of DC to tie this new show and the Young Justice team back to the Justice League. Its something adults will appreciate as a teacher/ learner experience, and it gives the younger audience an intro to the DCU with a team of kids on the learning curve (who will, undoubtedly, push back against the adult authority figures and do stuff their own way).

Robin, Aqualad and Superboy

Kid Flash

Miss Martian
Expect the first few episodes to be a bit shaky as the show finds its grounding and its voice.  As much as I love Timm's Batman series, and Justice League series, both of those shows grew in quality each season in animation and storytelling (that said, I think Superman: The Animated Series had a surprisingly good first season, and Batman Beyond, but you could argue BB rode the coattails of the success of other Timm series).

I'm not clear on which version of which characters are in the series.  Superboy is clearly Kon-El (Conner Kent), and Speedy is Roy Harper, but is Robin Tim or Dick Grayson?  Is that Wally or Bart as Kid Flash?  As I am trade waiting on Brightest Day, I don't know the new Aqualad at all, but I'm glad he and Miss Martian (Manhunter's recent new pal) are in the line up.  I'm not sure if we're getting a Wonder Girl, but it seems like I heard we were getting Arrowette, which seems odd.

Given that I haven't been able to stomach Teen Titans since Johns left the title, I'm glad to see someone affiliated with DC is doing something to support the next generation DC characters.  DC Comics certainly has been doing a terrible job of it.

So set your DVR now, people.  7:00 on Nov. 26th, a full hour of DCU.

Our heroes

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Comic Review: 9/11 Heartbreaker

Title:  9/11 Heartbreaker
Author/ Artist:  Craig Staufenberg

This is the first reflection piece on 9/11 that I can recall reading by someone from a generation younger than my own, and in that alone, 9/11 Heartbreaker manages to be an interesting comic. At least I assume that Craig Staufenberg is somewhere in his twenties, given the perspective of the central protagonist.

I was 26 during 9/11, had worked for a few years out of college and didn't have teachers and parents trying to explain or explain away the madness of what people do.  And so part of reading the comic is sorting through the differences in perspective between those of us who think of 9/11 as a "before and after" scenario versus coming to adulthood with 9/11 has an historical fact. 

And looking at the past to inform the present to decide for the future seems to be what Staufenberg's story seems to be about at the core.  The narrator leaps from the concepts of documenting the memories of the remaining population of Japan that survived World War II (and their reluctance to do so), to documenting the memories of young New Yorkers and 9/11, to wondering what became of the memories of the founders and builders of the great cities and towns of the East Coast and the Ozymandias-like fate of their achievements.

While I think the metaphor works, it feels like it could have been more greatly expanded upon.  The attempt to tie the personal past to the larger world seems a bit unfulfilled, and as its not exactly clear who our narrator is, it feels like a missed opportunity.

The comic is brief, really.  Staufenberg has produced the story as a single, 32ish paged comic.  His rendering style is loose and, frankly, somewhat rough, but that doesn't mean he doesn't make the look work in his favor in the style of cartoonist more than an illustrator.  As I see this comic sitting on the shelves in the same section as everything from James Kolchaka to Jeffrey Brown, embracing the limitations and making them work for you is part of what cartooning is about, rather than illustrative art. 

Also stylistically, this is a comic, but not one that uses word bubbles, etc...  Instead, the prose match the flow of the sequential art, and its an interesting way to manage the story, which so very much takes place in the head of the narrator.

As a first effort, 9/11 Heartbreaker is a very interesting read.  I like the core of the concept and genuinely enjoyed the execution once it became clear where the author was headed, but I'd like to see the concept expanded a bit more.  It feels like there's an idea that gels, but you're just seeing the start of it when the story draws to a close.  Perhaps more time, more pages, etc... if Staufenberg allows himself to return to the comic, he can take this to depths and dimensions of his established contemporaries. 

I very much like this first effort, I and I look forward to seeing what we see from this same writer/ artist in the future.

Order a digital copy here

Order a print copy here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On the Road

This isn't a road outside of San Angelo, but it could be
I've been driving to and fro across this great state of Texas, most recently in San Angelo.  I am not a big traveler for leisure, and my family tended to head East when I was growing up, so I had never been further west than Kerrville, Texas until I was 20 years old and went out to San Angelo for a wedding.  Of course, now I've been to California a few times, Seattle, etc...  and lived in Arizona for four years, but, mentally, I still tag San Angelo as the start of "the west" for myself.

Its a lovely drive.  Try it sometime.  Texas has a lovely Hill Country, and on 71, you get to cut right through the Hill Country for about 1.5 - 2 hours (and then you hit West Texas, and that's a bit more...  flat).

While driving I listen to a lot of audio books.  This year I've listened to stuff like Catch-22, On the Road, and Slaughterhouse Five (all of which were rewarding "reads", btw).  I don't generally read that much of what's on best seller lists as I'm already about 20 years behind the stuff you're supposed to read, and, on average, I generally don't like the books I wind up reading that are the books you see on airplanes.  But...

So, Jamie reads lots of comics at my recommendation.  In fact, she just read the entire recent runs on Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Blackest Night related material.  But she also reads just an insane number of actual books without pictures and stuff, so, as I was between books, I asked for a recommendation.

I'm about 90% done with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Its definitely an interesting book, and I can see how its become a big hit.  Originally written in Swedish, I wonder how much has been lost in translation, what I'm not getting as I know absolutely nothing about Swedish social norms, and, as the book is read by an actor I'm not particularly in love with (the guy who read Catch-22 was amazing) who I think has genuinely straight up had some weird interpretations of some of the dialog, I keep feeling there's a bit of a haze between me and the actual book.

But I do like the book.  You definitely realize you don't like a book quickly when you're stuck listening to it for more than an hour and you can't keep paying attention.  More on that when I finish in the next few days, I suppose. 

Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates since Sunday.  Its going to be fairly busy straight through the holidays, I'd guess.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer is Up

...and now comes the part where we find out if anyone but comic geeks are going to care about Hal Jordan and his space cop pals.

In all fairness, this sort of looks like Geoff Johns' Green Lantern with a fine layer of Ryan Reynolds cheese. Its going to take some doing to get used to a Hal that's Hollywood's version of a smart-alecky wise guy rather than the comics' teeth-gritting semi-smug hard-ass.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Austin Comic Con Wrap-Up (Year 1)

So, this was the first year Wizard World had brought a Con to Austin.  There were certainly highs and lows, but its a great start and something this part of the state can use and obviously support.

My day today was very different from Day 1 as I actually spent time with people I knew.

Okay, technically, I don't "know" Captain Marvel
Jamie decided to bail on me to spend an afternoon with PalNicole, so Jason took me up on the ticket.

At the Con I met up with Corpsman MattA.  MattA and I go way, way, waaaaaaaay back.  He informed me I was responsible for his first purchase of a comic circa 5th grade when we were both reading West Coast Avengers (I know, I know).  Anyway, I hadn't seen Matt since 1990 when I moved from Austin to the Houston area.  This was all pre-email and whatnot, so, younger readers, it used to be possible to lose track of people.

...Seriously, had not seen the dude in 20 years.  Comics, bringing geeks together.

Anyhow, Matt had brought his daughter, who was terribly sweet, and we all sought out R2-D2 together.  (There was a full-sized R2-D2 replica driven by remote control.  It had all sorts of moving parts and was may as well have been the one used in the movies.  Just great detail.).

a semi-anonymous child, R2D2, MattA's loud shirt and Jason's leg and sandal
 I also met up with JackBart and his friend (whose name I can just never remember).  I also ran into a high school pal, Phil, who I hadn't seen in...  man, I don't know.

The floor was busier today, and it seemed like the dealers had gotten a little more serious with their inventory since Friday as some (not even most) of the booths looked like they had new and more stuff out.  I spent far less time today around the autograph tables just gawking, mainly because I'd already fulfilled my primary objective of obtaining Ms. Gray's autograph.

It definitely seemed like there were more people in costume and far more kids, something I hope the vendors alter the show for next year.  If kids are going show up, it seems like vendors could better cater to the little miscreants.

And then, suddenly... Phil!

I picked up 3 prints from an artist named Terry Huddleston.  He has something of a cartoony, almost Jeff Smith-ish style that I really dug.  So I now have pics of Superman, Wonder Woman and The Atom that I'm going to have to figure out where to hang.

In addition to the Jimmy Olsen and Superman back issues I found on Friday, today I found a copy of The Great Superman Book.  Its not exactly the holy grail of Superman collecting, but I'd never seen a copy of the book before (its basically a big Superman reference book from back in the day).

Cosmic Boy must have used his Legion Time Bubble to bring 80's black-suit Spidey to 2010
Artist's Alley was full of people working on independent stuff, name artists (Greg Horn, Mike McKone, etc...), and just a lot of folks who just want to be in the game one way or another.  I came very, very close to getting a Dean Trippe sketch, but he looked very swamped.  Next time.  I want to see what he does for Krypto.

And...  local Austin artist Tim Doyle was in attendance with his own work and the guys working with Intergalactic Nemesis, a sort of comics/ live-action/ multi-media project.  I really want to get some of Doyle's work, but I can never figure out where it could go...

I was stunned to learn that JackBart knows nothing about Jack Kirby's New Gods series, and so he was a bit baffled when this happened.

Despite what Jason and Jack believed, this guy is actually not just a crazy hobo
It sounds like Wizard World was happy enough that they've already rented the space for the same weekend next year.  That's good news.  I can only hope this thing continues to grow.  Austin can fully support an event like the Comic Con.

If I had one beef, its that the stars of the show, Burt Ward and Adam West, were mostly available yesterday in what was officially dubbed "Batman and Robin Day" by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.  Its not the fault of anyone but myself for not paying attention to the signing schedule, and, of course, I chose not to attend yesterday.

I'd lie if I said that the Con isn't good people watching.  It is, indeed, generally a good time seeing people in a good mood doing their thing, whether its looking for comics, meeting celebrities or dressing up in a convincing Catwoman suit.  And, sincerely, whether you're into comics or not, there are worse ways to kill a few hours on a Sunday.

The local CBS affiliate did some stories and interviews on Comic Con.