Saturday, January 15, 2011

Susannah York Passes

Actress Susannah York has passed at the age of 72.  While York had a distinguished career, Signal Watch points to her in her brief but excellent portrayal of Lara, birth mother of Superman, in Superman: The Movie and the theatrical release of Superman II.

Godspeed to Ms. York.

Some Favorite Lois Lanes - Part 1

I don't even recall what I was doing, but I stumbled across this image and it got me thinking.

I didn't love the ending of Superman: Birthright, but when it came out, and then when you see it collected... man, I still really like both the look and emotional vibe of that comic. And I always liked Waid's characterization of Lois. Somehow, Yu's take also felt right as the "gangly girl who grew into a beautiful woman but doesn't know it".

This particular image of Lois from Birthright has such an odd sense of...  poetry to it.  (Yeah, I said poetry.  Shut up.) Its a cover, and it tells you what you need to know about the issue, too, I guess.

I think its important that artists remember who they're dealing with when they draw Lois Lane.  She's not deserving of respect just because she appeared with Superman in Action Comics #1, but because she's a great, tough, smart character.   So, you know, take care, fer goodness sake.

Anyway, looking at Lois here got me thinking about some of my favorite comic artists and how they handled Lois.  Over the the years, Lois has been drawn by, I'd guess, hundreds of artists in an official capacity.  Many don't seem to really know what to do when it comes to Lois, and draw "generic brunette woman" into the comic, just not even trying to give her any punch.  Its almost a hallmark of how invested the artist is in Superman how much they try to do something with Lois in the pages she appears.

It all started, of course, with Siegel and Shuster, two dudes who knew instinctively what kind of woman would catch the eye of their new hero.

This leads indirectly to the fellow freaking out on the cover of Action Comics #1
I LOVE Lois Lane in these early appearances.  She treats Clark like dirt for being a weasel, she takes no guff, and she's taking the world by storm.

Lois's foremost characteristic is, of course, fearlessness.  In most portrayals, she also has no idea that she's a very good looking woman (although John Byrne seemed to disagree on that point.  She seemed to know in Man of Steel.)   And she'll sell her child to the black market if it could get her a scoop, but that would be so she could expose the corruption of the Black Market Baby racket, ie:  she's a social crusader who uses the Daily Planet as her megaphone.

What every artist and writer has to strive to do is find a way a way to demonstrate that this person is the sort of person that would draw Superman's interest, and that's no small feat.  In comparison to Superman, fragile she may be, but she also has to be the kind of person who can go toe-to-toe with The Man of Steel, tell him when he's wrong without blinking, and all without writers sliding down the path of making her sound like an unpleasant person (which, some weaker writers have done from time to time).

In addition to Shuster, of the classics I'm a fan of the work of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, the two primary artists on Superman back in the day.  Boring handled Superman in the 1940's and Swan came on in the 1950's, I think, and departed around 1986.

If Siegel and Shuster have a depressing cautionary tale to tell about Intellectual Property, then Wayne Boring is DC's answer to depressing stories about work-for-hire.  Boring drew Superman comics (hundreds of them) for years.  One day he showed up for work, and had been let go.  Because something was really, really wrong with editor Mort Weisinger.

His Lois is a little more fragile looking than most, but he was there for the post WWII Lois and took part in bringing Superman into the Silver Age.

This is pretty much the stylistic look I associate with Boring: a lot of WTF looks from Lois
He was first teamed with and later replaced by Curt Swan, who had been doing covers and backups and whatnot, and as much as I love Boring for his era, I'm amazed not just at Swan's prolific output, how he came to define a lot of what people think of when the concept of mid-century comics comes to mind. 

Swan would draw Lois for decades, and help bring her right into the 80's.  I actually quite liked some of his 70's-era updates as the "big city reporter" melded with an ERA-era Lois.

Kurt Schaffenberger's depiction, is actually a lot more fun than I think most comic readers know.  He really captured the bat-@#$% crazy mindset of Lois in the late 50's through the 60's and gave a lot of life to the character.  He was on Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane for a huge run of the series. Lois is, no doubt, out of her mind in practically every single issue of the first 80 or so issues of the series, and Shaffenberger displays an amazing ability to draw Lois's many states of crazy.  Below:  blind rage.

In this story, Lois is kind of the Betty Draper to Clark's Super-Don
But my favorite is Schaffenberger's "scheming Lois".

our hero, ladies and gentlemen
The fact that Lois was constantly plotting and petty during the crucial Silver Age era is seen as a big negative by some, especially as she was plotting and scheming to get married, but, you know...  times is times and I don't hold it against the creative teams any more than I would hold it against Lois if she were scheming to get a get stock tips or good seats at a basketball game today.  As much as I enjoy scheming Lois, I'm not sure what kind of comic that would be today.  But I would welcome it on the rack.

There's no doubt about my adoration of the much-more-recent All Star Superman, and as the series progressed, I really began to appreciate what Morrison had written for Lois, as well as how Quitely portrayed Lois.  At first I thought she was a little willowy, but I really grew to appreciate what he'd done in modernizing the look a bit (Lois is the Batmobile of the Superman universe, btw.  Every artist has their ideas.)

Man, this is a couple who has come to an understanding.

this picture is actually how I feel keeping up with Jamie, sometimes
Gary Frank took on Lois in Action Comics and Superman: Secret Origin, giving me a Lois I think I liked as much as Quitely and Yu's.  Frank's style lended itself to making Lois appear almost like someone you might know, and not an airbrushed image of a woman that comic artists do when they aren't allowed to hide behind superhero costumes (I'm looking at you, Ed Benes).

Tim Sale hasn't had extensive opportunity to draw Lois Lane, but I can't argue with the results.

And if you've never read Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, for shame!  His Lois is a nice retroactive approach to the character, appropriate to the astronauts and trail blazers of the era.  And you never doubt the Superman/ Lois dynamic, not for a moment.

So there's a heaping, helping bunch of Lois Lane for you.  Next time we do this, I think we'll talk TV and film.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Superman 707 arrives/ Continuing the "Grounded" Storyline

Superman #707
Story Outline by J. Michael Straczynski
Script by Chris Roberson
Pencils by Allan Goldman
Inks by Ebel Ferreira

A Whole Lot of Background:

Yesterday I ventured out to Austin Books and Comics and picked up Superman 707 as part of a signing that was held for Austin local Chris Roberson, who worked from an outline by J. Michael Straczynski.  I did get the issue signed, etc...  And I am very happy to have an Austin local on the book.

Roberson has his hands full coming on in the middle of what's been a fairly major and public catastrophe for DC Comics and the Superman line of books, in particular.  When Geoff Johns left the Superman books to work on other projects and take on the role of Chief Creative Officer for DC, DC handed the reigns off to well regarded writer Greg Rucka, who had done a good job on Action Comics circa 2005-2006.  Unfortunately, Rucka was handed an idea that didn't really sound like his cup of tea (the iffy Nightwing and Flamebird storyline while Superman ran around New Krypton in a spin-off maxi-series).  Few Superman fans felt that the year-long story-arc was well executed, and it left the books in an odd place.  Clearly DC had expected for the hook of Superman abandoning his own titles, etc... was going to be huge.

So, in the best of circumstances, taking over a book mid-stream is a tough job.

Enter JMS, the mind behind the much-beloved sci-fi epic, Babylon 5, writer of the very good film Changeling, and a guy who I thought had taken some pretty good whacks at comic work at Marvel with Spider-Man (and I liked The Twelve until it stopped coming out), but who had kind of flamed out with a storyline that just lost me.  Nonetheless, I was glad to hear DC was invested enough in Superman as a character that they would bring on JMS.

JMS's storyline, Grounded, followed Superman on a cross-country walk as he, in a state of PTSD after New Krypton*, realized he wasn't in touch with the very people he was trying to protect.

Look, I have very, very mixed feelings about what followed.  Far be it from me to say that the story is perfect.  That's simply not the case.  The dialog was iffy and JMS clumsily wrote in straw man arguments for Superman to supposedly dismiss.  Whether its the fault of the artist or JMS, the racial coding on some of this was a little... hard to swallow.

But the truth is that the online reaction to the story has been hyperbolic and reveals more about the mindset of comic readers and, frankly, their inability to understand nuance or even try to stay with a story that didn't resort to extreme violence, awkward attempts at sexiness, a team-up or insular comic-book logic to push it forward.  At some point in the discourse (and fairly early on), JMS ceased being the one who was wrong in the conversation, no matter the quality of the work.

Not every writer is going to be brilliant, and not every story from a great writer is going to be gold.  But I could appreciate that JMS was at least trying to posit how Superman would look in the world, and that the kinds of solutions Superman provides are temporary solutions at best, and that the world is, in fact, a deeply complicated place.**

People following the comic know that of the prior 6.25 issues of JMS's run, 2 were substitute issues written by G. Willow Wilson, a writer whose work I don't know much about.  JMS and DC cited health issues, and because that seems reasonable, I'm going with JMS's story.

While I didn't love the execution, I at least liked the questions Wilson brought up.  Its basic character and world-building stuff that writers seem to ignore all too often when thinking about writing Superman.  But the bottom line is that JMS had only written 4 .25 issues, and its impossible to know what JMS intended for the duration of what was supposed to be his 12 issue run.

So, on to actually discussing 707

I have no idea what part here is JMS, and what part is Roberson.  I hate to even hazard a guess.

What's interesting is that Roberson seems to have a feel for the Bronze/ Silver Age Superman that Geoff Johns was trying to bring back to the DCU (and that I've personally begun to feel is a lot more fun than the COIE to IC Superman) than JMS.  There's something oddly Bronze Age about how the story is set up, from the chemical plant fire to Superman's discussion with Lois (in which she comments that he seems... off), and continuing right to the twist ending - leading to much bigger things.  I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I wouldn't cry to see the book drawn by Curt Swan.

Not all of the dialog is as smooth as it could be, and I'm not sure how this will fit with the overall DC Comics approach where Blackest Night and Batman & Robin are hot commodities, but the story serves as a bridge between the last few issues of Superman's trek and wherever Roberson is sending him next.

Most runs have a rough first issue (I'd include Morrison's first couple issues on Batman) until the writer settles in and the audience goes a bit more along with the writer.  I'll be watching the next few issues to see Roberson truly take the reins of the story and see what he can do to get the Superman book back on track, even if Grounded itself can't quite be saved.

The moral dilemma of the story centers around an environmental issue vs. and economic issue.  A chemical plant is definitely damaging the environment (but not people) but the factory is the last sustaining economic factor in the town.  Its a microcosm of America's (and much of the planet's) grappling with the needs of the economy versus the longterm environmental impact of polluters.

In reviews I read online, a  lot of reviewers went so far as to claim the solution was obvious or simple, and Superman's indecision was ridiculous.  Others pointed to "mind control".  But the bottom line is:  If you step away for two seconds and/ or actually read the paper - this isn't a simple issue.  For anybody (try Googling "Kyoto Protocols").  Nor should it be seen as a simple issue for Superman to magic away because he's Super.

The discrepancy between what Superman can and can't do, and maybe what we can all do if we tried, is much of what JMS was trying to say with his Grounded storyline.  I'm not sure its okay to use Superman to wish-fulfill away abusive parents, infestations of drugs in economically challenged communities, etc...  and keep Superman on the side of the angels while providing a longterm solution or keeping him on police duty 24/7 in every crook where people have decided to live, everywhere on the planet. 

Its often difficult to try to reconcile Superman's first appearances as an unstoppable social crusader (which, for the modern reader is a vintage throwback) with the knowledge that its semi-offensive to suggest in a comic that, say, Superman would resolve something as serious as the tragedy in Haiti.   You can't have Superman stop 9/11 in the comics any more than, during WWII the editors were willing to put him on the front lines in Europe, which is about the time Superman quit dealing with real-world issues in the comics.***

The problem may be:  the story of the superhero living and acting in the "real world" makes for a decent fill-in-issue or writing assignment by some fresh faced young writer outside of comics who thinks they are making some point nobody ever considered (you see a lot of that in different media, from short stories to websites.  Also, Superman stealing people's girlfriends.).  But sustained over 12 issues, I'm not sure reminding the audience at every turn that their superhero of choice is a bit ineffective on the macroscale, or that real-world problems are actually difficult to grapple with is something a lot of superhero fans are going to grok and/ or embrace.

But Superman, for the last 60 years of his publication history hasn't been about Superman fixing everything wrong with the world like a helpful genie.  If we want to look at the character, the point is to use what you have to make the world better when and where you can with what you have.  

Whether this story grips you personally as a reader who was hoping Superman would heat-vision a tank or something, then...  sure, I can see why you'd be disappointed, but I thought Roberson handled Superman's frustration pretty well.  With a hint that something else was going on, as the story indicated.

Oh my god, shut up internet

I made a solemn vow not to talk about what the rest of the internet was saying.  But...

And I want to be clear, here:  I don't know Roberson.  I have nothing invested in whether he succeeds or fails with his issue.  But if you're going to criticize the issue...  at least make it clear you either actually read it or that you can understand what you read.

Its an odd failing of long-form storytelling that comics produced by DC and Marvel rely on the monthly format.  And as an odder artifact, it seems the review and reviewer work entirely in the realm of the 22 pages in front of them, as if there's been nothing before and what the writer sees in a single issue is all there is.  That point of view can be defended, but sometimes...  cheezus.  You kind of want to slap the reviewer in the head and ask what public school failed them.

If the argument between Superman and Lois felt a little weird or awkward...  congratulations.  You picked up on what was a fairly obvious tip-off from the writer (along with the many suggestions that Superman was having issues) that something is up.  It does not mean Roberson is necessarily doing something wrong either with a character or with a story. And, I believe, he's taking the story back to a place that's maybe a little more familiar and a better space for Superman and superhero comic readers.

In conclusion

The last page of issue 707 suggests that (1) something else is at hand and that (2) Roberson plans to take Superman in a different direction now that he's got the keys to the car.

I'm going to hold out on telling you that you need to run out there and buy this comic any more than I was saying that about most other Superman comics.  But what I will say is that rather than another several months of up's and down's that we saw with JMS, we now have the potential for a better Superman comic. 

I, uhm...  I did not love Allan Goldman's pencils, I am afraid.  Serviceable, but this was obviously a pretty quick turnaround.

*  Spoiler alert:  The city of Kandor exploded, killing 10's of 1000's of Kryptonians and Zod attacked Earth with a fleet of Kryptonian soldiers
**but I about choked on the "aliens in Detroit" story
***for those of you gleefully leaping to your keyboards and the comment section: this also applies to virtually every character in every heroic fictional action story in every medium, which is why I'm interested to see Superman, the 800 lb gorilla of American Genre storytelling, put up against actual crises

Noir in Austin - "Out of the Past" and "Laura" at the Paramount on Sunday

Out of the Past starts at 2:00 and Laura starts at 4:00.  I believe one ticket will get you into both shows. 

I'll be there at 1:40 or so.  Email me if you're going.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I should of stuck with that job

A long time ago, some colleagues at my current job and I were chatting, and I was describing the most troubling part of the job I'd had when I worked at the Disney Store during the summers of 1993-1995.

"And so we had this thing at the back of the store, it was called 'Plush Mountain', and it was this pile of stuffed animals.  Brand new stuffed animals, all brightly colored, all these familiar Disney characters piled up way higher than any kid could see.  And these kids, they'd see it from way, way back in the store from between the racks of toys and coffee cups.  We had these high pillars filled with all kinds of Disney stuff.   It was too much.  It would just overload their little kid brains to see this amazing pile of Disney.

"So the kids would see it, and they'd start running at the mountain from half-way through the store, just barreling at full-tilt, ready to fling themselves into Plush Mountain.

"What these kids didn't know, and what their parents didn't know, I guess...  was that the only way you can have a mountain like that is to have these shelves built in.  It looks like a pile, but its this tiered thing, with these hard, wooden shelves built in in there, covered with laminate or something.  If any kid actually ever made the leap, and was able to jump in there headfirst, you know, the way they were trying, they'd have smashed their little faces in.

"So every Saturday, when the store was really busy, I'd get stationed at the back of the store.  And, yeah, you're helping people find stuff, but what you're really doing all day is catching these kids before they throw themselves face first into this mountain of stuffed animals, and that's just going to end badly.  All day, just kid after kid, you see them start running, and you're grabbing them.  Some of them, I kid you not, in mid-air.  Stopping some of them by the seat of their pants.  That's all you'd do all day."

My co-worker looked at me, and I could tell he had something to say:  "You were The Catcher in the Rye".

We kind of eyed each other for a minute and burst out laughing really, really hard.

"Jesus, I should of stuck with that job."

Nobody else at the table got it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

History of the Batmobile

This has been making the rounds a bit, and a couple of you have chucked it my way (thanks for that, btw, PaulT and MattA!).

I've said before and I'll say it again:  As much as I'm a fan of Batman and his cast of characters, I'm a fan of the very loose concept of the Batmobile.

"yeah, just a minute.  I think this guy wants his phone back..."

Anyway, for those of you who know the Batmobile from the old TV show or movies, in the comics, every artist who comes onboard wants to add their bit to Batlore, and generally the editors seem to be willing to let artists cook up new looks for the Batmobile to build on previous looks, tie in with existing, recent model cars, etc...

Anyhow, here's an absolutely stunning graphic I think you guys might enjoy.  

Click below for website that will launch you to the full image.

Click here for full graph!
see more Funny Graphs

I Kind of Hate this Idea - High School Batman

iO9 posted concept art from a never-developed cartoon idea about "what if Gotham was a high school, and all the villains just people in a high school?  And Bruce the dreamy, broody guy?"

Lately, pretty much any alternate version of any familiar comic property dreamt up on DeviantArt gets big props from the online comics community, and I'm not surprised that a show that hits as many notes of popular generic media spliced with something as popular as Batman is getting oohs and aahs. 

this is funny for as long as it takes for you to figure who is what dumb TV high school stereotype
I LOVE Batman stuff that's for kids, so that's not what I think I dislike.  So much of the high school stuff in comics (and there's a ton of it) feels more like an idea of high school that came from watching movies than from people who went to high school.  And/ or adults working out issues because they didn't feel cool enough in high school.  And there's so dang much of it.

I dunno.  It just seems kind of like trying to make Batman work in Mean Girls, and if you're going to do that, why not make it Batman in day care.  Or Batman in the old folks home.  Or Batman in the office.

But I also know: there's going to be a large fanbase that feels that DC totally missed the boat by not doing this. I semi-respectfully disagree.

I don't know exactly why I'm not crazy about this.  If anyone wants to speculate, we have a comments section.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm glad that DC went with The Brave and the Bold, instead.  And not just because B: B&B has a rocking theme song.

The Frontier is Everywhere

This is not official NASA work. This is a NASA fan film.

And it encapsulates exactly why I believe in a space program by the people and for the people.

iPhone comes to Verizon

It looks like iPhone is finally coming to Verizon in February. I am not one who cares all that much as I haven't drunk the Kool-Aid on Apple product, but it's nice to have the option. Its time for my upgrade, and I am well aware that the iPhone has a lot more apps, etc...

Really, part of me wants to get an Android just so I can give that blank look to Apple-Zombies when they start insisting I've made the wrong choice. I confess, that look of anxiety and consternation I get in reply is just really gratifying.

Verizon's announcement page.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Action Comics #900 (900!) Variant Cover by Alex Ross

complete with "guy freaking out in the corner".

If you've been to my living room, you'll have seen prints by Alex Ross up on the walls and a framed copy of Superman #680 by the door.  I'm a fan of Mr. Ross' work.

While I enjoy the heck out of retold versions of the Superman story, there's something kind of astounding about Superman's appearance in Action Comics #1.  In 1938, some gangsters are kidnapping a reporter, driving crazy, basically just to throw their weight around, and suddenly their car is stopped by a man.  Stopped.  By.  A.  Man.

He tosses the car around, bullets do no harm, and he quickly dispatches the crooks and gently reassures the shaken reporter.

Its the sort of thing that puts the world on notice: from now on, everything is going to be different.

The reporter, of course, is Lois Lane: utterly fearless and already in trouble because she told a mob boss to take a hike when he made "romantic" overtures (she, of course, has no idea a Superman exists and would pull her fat out of the fire when she's getting in the mob boss's grill).

One of the things the comics have forgotten how to do is remind the reader of the wonder of a Man of Steel.  If the story is told from the perspective of Superman, then we forget that what's happening here is being told because its so unique and crazy in our world (there's a whole argument for why Clark Kent is important to Superman that fits in there).  And one of the things I like about the work of Ross is that his style puts these things into a context of a world where you can see how the world would be effected.  Ehen he drops his superheroes into the middle of a Rockwell-eqsue watercolor of the world, we can understand just what sort of feeling it would be to see a Superman chuck a sedan fifty feet into the air.

Provided our gunman isn't insane, we know he's doing some quick algebra in his head, because he's seeing something new and immense and serious and it is coming right for him (and killing that guy... its just going to provoke this thing all the more).

The phrase "adolescent power fantasy" gets thrown around a lot.  And that's fine.  Whatever gets people through the night.  It was the vision of two teenagers imagining a world in which a person has the power to not be cowed by the guns or brute force of those who would do harm to others, no matter their number, that gave way to Superman.  And the American ideal of the super-hero.  And I like the idea that if when we're blessed with the ability to help, we do so.

Also, I just like seeing Superman chuck a car and the guy freaking out in the corner.

Action Comics #900 is an amazing milestone.  900 issues since 1938.  The comic should arrive in April or early May with, I'd guess, a few options for covers. 

Go Ducks!

I am rooting for the Oregon Ducks in the 2010-2011 BCS  Championship Game.  That's just how I roll.

That two-point conversion was just kind of awesome, btw.

Just wanted to make that clear here before the end of the game.

For historical purposes, when I'm looking back at posts, they were playing Auburn, about which I have no particular feelings, positive or negative.

post game edit:   You can't say Oregon didn't give Auburn a good game or that they didn't have a great season.  Way to go, Ducks! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back from Sub-Diego - I read a lot

In the Aquaman comics from around 2004, the waterfront of San Diego was somehow cleaved from the shoreline and plunged into the ocean.  The populace that survived the incident were turned into water-breathing folks, like Aquaman's peeps, the Atlanteans.  Aquaman came to the rescue, and became the hero of Sub-Diego (get it?).

Unfortunately, the writers on the book took way too long to explain what the heck had happened and why, and what started off as a great story idea fizzled, was canceled and subducted into continuity oblivion by 2006's Infinite Crisis event (which also killed Aquaman and led to the very confusing and not all that interesting follow up with Aqua-Knight/ Fake Aquaman/ Who Approved This?).

Anyway, that's what I think of when I stand near the water in San Diego.  Also: oh, look, a sea gull.

I do not have the romantic attachment to San Diego that folks in Arizona had.  It was where everybody went the minute they had a day off.  There's no real equivalent for Texans, who hold their own beaches in semi-contempt, and who generally look down their nose at each others' cities (sorry, Amarillo).  And there certainly anything in Texas that looks like San Diego, although you can certainly see certain architectural similarities between the all-recent construction in San Diego and the more recent sky-riser condos here in town.  They all have that "this is shiny and looks like it was deigned on a computer!" feel to the architecture that I suspect we'll find regrettable in another 20 years or so.

That said, I do not dislike San Diego.  Its nifty.  Its clean and pretty.  It has a lot to offer and it looks expensive as @#$% to live there.

Anyway, I presented at a conference on Saturday, and I guess it went well.  Aside from that, there wasn't much to do.  I kind of walked around, but wasn't feeling very touristy.  So I wound up watching the Texas A&M game, read two graphic novels and the better part of two books.

I read the first volume of DC's Brightest Day, and kept thinking "I shouldn't be enjoying this".  Its kind of silly, it manages to set up a whole bunch of plot in a clumsy fashion and introduces ideas that I'm not sure I care all that much about, but...  I actually liked it quite a bit.  I'm a big Martian Manhunter fan from way back, I like how Johns handles Hawkman and Hawkwoman and their convoluted history, etc...  And I try to read anything with the Jason Rusch version of Firestorm (which I never thought got a fair shake when DC tried so hard with that series about 6 years ago).

Aside from that first shot at what looked like a neat run on Aquaman (see above), I've not been a huge fan of the comic or character.  I just never found a hook.  But I kind of like what Johns and Tomasi seem to be doing with the King of the Seas.  Sure, its not as straight up FUN as the Brave and the Bold version, but please, somebody at DC get Aquaman figured out.  And none of this magical water-hand or hook-hand hoo-ha.  Just...  Aquaman.  And that's what this first volume of Brightest Day seems to be offering up (and I like Mera, who has usually stood around like vermicelli more than a character)

And like most Johns and Tomasi stuff, it seems like its actually going somewhere, which is not what I'd necessarily say about a lot of series.  Sure, its a little aggravating that the White Ring won't just lay out its plans, and instead is being all elliptical and messing with Boston Brand and whatnot, but...  you kind of get the feeling that it'll be worth the payoff.

I am not reading every single tie-in.  I'll read stuff I'm already reading, but DC is not going to be able to convince me that buying Titans is a good idea.  And as little heat as its generating, I don't see me reading JLA: Generation Lost, either (because, man...  I was kind of done with Maxwell Lord as soon as Diana enabled him to see where he'd been, if you get my drift).

If the creative team on Wonder Woman can get Diana squared away (and that seems increasingly possible), this is the first time in  25 years I can think of that the Original 7 of the JLA have been able to walk into a room and look one another in the face (just when Barry shows up, J'onn and Bruce got taken out).  There's just so much potential there, and its potential I think DC squandered multiple times over the years - most recently by demonstrating that they didn't understand what Meltzer was doing with the JLA either strategically within the DCU or from a character standpoint.

In fact, I'm kind of looking forward to a DCU that seems geared toward trying, if even for a short while, to have the most recognizable versions of their properties in one place at the same time.  Sure, change is the thing that makes the world go round, but it would be nice to see the main continuity find a way to work in an epic age for itself where the characters were the idealized versions of themselves, just for a while.

No secret, I love the DCU, and I always will.  But I also no longer feel like I need to buy everything DC puts out there.  When you don't see editorial working to make sure their properties the best they can be, I don't feel the urge as a reader or consumer to participate.  Somehow Johns (and Tomasi, increasingly) almost always makes me feel like I am getting somebody's best effort, and the effort of someone who cares more deeply about doing right by the characters than putting his stamp on that character.  That stamping part just comes naturally, in a way that I think you could almost say reminds me of how the stable of 70's and 80's-era DC writers made it work.  I'm thinking of guys like Paul Kupperberg, Elliot S! Maggin, Cary Bates, and even Marv Wolfman.  Only, you know, its Johns, so you tend to see a lot more disembowelings (Mr. Johns will one day learn that you don't need to actually show the disembowelings, you can just mention that they happened). 

I also read a Greatest Batgirl Stories Ever Told collection, and it was really, really fun.   Some of its a bit dated, some of it isn't.  Aside from the original origin story, everything in it was new to me (bot not necessarily news to me), so I finally got to read the story of how Babs got sent to Washington to hold elected office.*

Also reading a good chunk of a collection called Lone Star Noir, which is a collection of crime stories written about various locales here in Texas.  I admit I jumped ahead and read the Austin section.  The stories are, admittedly, hit-or-miss, but its interesting reading.

And I'm plowing through book 4 of the Parker Novels by Richard Stark (aka: Donald Westlake), The Mourner.  It's tough to know what to say about it other than: that is most definitely a Parker novel. Dude likes to hit people with guns.

But I'm back!  And now it slate and I should probably just go to bed.

*a bit odd reading that on the day Rep. Gloria Giffords of Tucson was shot, I confess