Friday, October 7, 2011

Return to the New 52: Batbooks Part 1 (Catwoman & Detective)

This blog post has been brought to you by a grant from the Austin Books Foundation.*  Austin Books, finding ways to part a fool and his money (me) since 1986.

I know we've passed on to Month 2 of the New 52, and I'll be talking about Action Comics #2 in short order, but we're going to proceed with discussing the rest of the titles

Catwoman #1 by Judd Winick and Guillem March

One wonders what Judd Winick had in his script, and what March tossed aside so he could indulge in what DC usually pays him for, over-the-top cheesecake.  I'm neither a fan of Winick or March, and figured from the descriptions that this book would have a certain flavor and flair when I was making my purchasing decisions, and it seems I wasn't so far off.

At this point, the comic has become notorious for its sexually charged content in the closing pages, and you can read about that debate elsewhere.  But that's just a portion of the book, and I'd deal with it in context.

Winick sets out to frame his Catwoman as a smart, clever high-end thief who maybe plays both sides of the law.  That's been the character's appeal since the 1980's, and so its not exactly new or news.  What happens on the page (and I don't know who decided what between writer, artist and editor) is that it removes the hints of sexuality which have constantly churned beneath the surface since Catwoman first appeared (well, not when she was wearing the weird mascot-like cathead, but maybe when she took that off).  Those first appearances are fairly intriguing for their time and intended audience of kids.

Tonally, Winick is all over the map.  Daffy escape from Selina Kyle's apartment, anxiety over losing her place, burning rage at some Russian mobster, and the "let's fill the emptiness with sex" leap that takes the question of "do they or don't they?" and insists "oh, absolutely, they do."

We'll get to the controversy over the sex scene in a mo', but frankly I was shocked at the depiction of Selina beating and tearing up the mobster, which points to what may be part of March's problem in the final pages. Mainstream superhero comics have long had high doses of sex and violence, but March (and from his past work, I'd argue Winick) have no intention to or are incapable of playing by the usual rules of innuendo for either.  For reasons that I am sure we'll all come to learn were well deserved, Selina claws and tears at this fellow and there's just a ridiculous amount of blood everywhere, more akin to a slasher movie than an action film.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Merges with Infinite - Makes Shinier and More User Friendly

A lot of ink will get spilled over the passing of Steve Jobs over the next 72 hours.  And it'll all be deserved.

The man was as near an Edison as we were likely to see in our lifetimes, the personality and face which didn't necessarily do the heavy lifting back at the lab, but whose clear vision and ability to reach people where they lived made it possible for Jobs to push technology in bold and daring new directions, and ask the competition to keep up.  Like Edison, I'm sure Jobs had his Teslas, but I don't have any interest today in dwelling on the man's foibles or issues.

What I can remember is standing in a strip mall store with my parents and brother and then bringing home an Apple IIe that changed our household and within a couple of years, the classroom full of Apples in middle school.  And then the first Macs with the flying toasters.  But let's not kid ourselves.  It was the sleek Macs that came after the candy colored iMacs, those wildly powerful things in white and black casings.  Then the Scandanavian design of Mac product circa 2001.

The iPod suddenly made those piles of cheap discsman players you were constantly battling with utterly obsolete when it landed, and then Apple changed the media distribution model from the scummy BS of Napster to the legal and oh-so-Apple world of iTunes.  The iPhone stretching out your capabilities beyond the tri-corder and communicators of Star Trek with their sleek faces, and "Jesus, how did they do that?" interfaces and designs that you couldn't believe, and as if they knew how your mind sifted through information better than you, yourself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The New 52 - Impressions at the Half-Way Point

As I mentioned, I've been given a great opportunity from the good folks at Austin Books and Comics to read the remaining New 52 books from DC Comics that I hadn't picked up yet.  So, we'll be starting that up next week.

However, as we enter Month 2 of the New 52 here on Wednesday, I didn't want to wait a whole lot longer to discuss some initial impressions after reading about half of the new 52 (Honestly, it could be another month before I got through the remaining books).

Looking at the financial success of the month for DC and comic shops alike, it seems the hype machine fired on all cylinders, and DC accomplished what it set out to do - and that's get readers to the store.  And they did it by doing what no cross-over or event could do, and genuinely bring the unexpected to the table.  No assumptions were safe, history had re-written itself at DC Comics, and the decades that guys like myself have spent trying to get our heads around what comprised the DCU was semi-irrelevant as we picked up each book in September.  I found that a good thing.

that sound you hear is DC laughing at your gripes from behind stacks of money
I'm guessing that at least the month of September and likely October will see sales for DC Comics that nobody in the hallowed halls of DC has seen in years.

What I'm not sure about is if what they sold wasn't anticipation more than product, if we'll have a fraction of these same readers by June, and what it looks like when buyers quit sampling series.  And, certainly, this is the last time DC can pull this stunt for the next few years.*

Given the fact that DC has reportedly sold out of all of the New 52 titles' first run printings, I'm not sure content or the actual exciting new direction had much to do with anything so much as a perfect storm of (a) the certainty that this really was a major deal and, despite comics' constant insistence on "earth shattering", "nothing will ever be the same" - you get a lot of the same out there, and this wasn't that, (b) the opportunity to get in on the ground floor for what might actually be good, and (c) the remaining readers with a collector mentality who really do get excited by new #1s and all new directions.

But let's cut to the chase...

Here's a list of what I think I will be picking up in Month 2 of the New DCU

Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen Spooktacular Participation Time!

Hey, everybuddy!

Its time for the 2011 Halloween Signal Corps Partipation Event!

Ms. Lake continues to be very excited about this chance for Signal Corps participation
Last year we ran a participation event in which folks talked about their favorite and least favorite monsters.  Personally, I had a ton of fun reading responses that came in.  It was awesome to see all of the different monsters, creatures and explanations. 

You can see an index of last year's Halloween Event responses here.

a reader, spooked by last year's terrific responses

I floated a query via FB and Twitter to see what people thought might work for an event this year, and I appreciate the feedback!

We'll take a bit of a scattershot approach, and I apologize if we didn't use your idea this go-round.

when I found yet another picture of a woman looking back over her shoulder in a witch hat with a pumpkin, I figured I better post this one, too.

So, the two question categories this year are sort of Charlie Brown questions, which are my favorite:


1)  What is your favorite under-appreciated horror/ monster/ creepy/ whatever movie.  What scary movie did you see that you were shocked to either realize nobody had ever seen, or you realized later: everybody else hates this movie but me?

2)  What was your worst costume choice (or that of a friend or colleague)?  What costume do you just completely and totally regret having worn?  Why? 

"and one year, I was just straight up terrifying to the neighbors..."

  • Please send in all responses by October 19. 
  • We will begin running responses week of October 24.
This Signal Corps Participation Event participant isn't going to go batty worrying about whether people will like her responses


Everytime we do one of these, you guys write in to tell me "I'm not sure what to say" or "My answer won't be good enough".  Poppycock.  You've all got stories, and everytime we do this, its a blast.  Just share what you've got.

  • You may submit three answers per question (maybe you have a whole list of schlocky movies you really like or just have no ability to put together a costume.  You tell me)
  • Please keep profanity to a minimum.  Remember that my mother-in-law reads this site, and that we love Judy and do not want to make her sad with your swears and gutter talk
  • There is no fixed length for your response, but please include a "who, what, where, when, why" in your answer, if possible
  • You may answer either or both questions (or neither, but we won't give you credit for lack of effort)
  • Pictures are welcome
  • As editor-in-chief of this site, I reserve the right to withhold printing your responses with a clear conscience should you go off the rails, but I will be happy to talk through any issues I have regarding content of your submission

Send your submissions (or questions) to:  signalwatch at gmail dot com

Looking forward to your responses!  You guys always do such an awesome job when we have a group participation event.  So let's get scary and see what we can cook up for Halloween!

Tuesday Non-Post (comics, Prohibition, contest)

Man, I'm sorry.

I just didn't get around to any posting for Monday or today.

Truth be told, I'm a little worse for wear from all the reviews and I'm gearing up for the next round of Month 1 DC New reviews, which I very much want to do.

This evening I watched the DVR'd first episode of the Prohibition documentary on PBS while inventorying comics I plan to dispose of.  (a) This accounting for every comic is time consuming, even when they're in the database, and (b) the Prohibition documentary is a fascinating look not just at the cultural forces of 100 years ago, but at the utopian vision of the management of vice via legislation we grapple with daily today.


But mostly, I've just been a bit busy.

We'll be back with the usual malarkey as soon as possible.

We'll also be getting this year's Halloween Signal Corps participation event underway this week, so start thinking spooky thoughts.

if Veronica Lake can think up spooky thoughts, so can you

Monday, October 3, 2011

Faux-Post - an index of reviews of the DC's New 52

I sort of failed at getting a post up for a Monday morning, and that's on me.

Here's a quick index of reviews by myself and our guests over the past few weeks.

If you think I'm missing a post, I'm not.  I'm afraid the naming conventions are a bit hinky as I included Super-titles in my count.  Example, Week 3 I reviewed Supergirl first.  My apologies.  It made sense at the time, sort of.

Superman Titles:

Long-Form Reviews of DCU Books:

Round-Up Reviews on DCU Books:

Guest Posts:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

DC Comics New 52, Week 4 - Part 2 (All Star Western, Teen Titans)

Whoops. Well, I thought I had purchased more of this week's offerings, but maybe 7 DC titles this week was plenty. So, only two more reviews and we're calling it a day on this first part of my reviews of the New 52, ie - the stuff I wanted to spend money on.

Next week we'll be circling back and looking at the stuff I didn't buy, either because I wasn't interested, or because I'd planned to "wait for the trade" (ex: Green Lantern and Batman books).

I will, between now and then, write a post regarding my general impressions of the relaunch, I think.

All Star Western #1 - written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Moritat

Firstly, this is a poorly named book. Most DC readers consider Gotham to be located on the East Coast, and I frequently have heard that we're to consider its location in New Jersey. If New Jersey is the West, then I have absolutely no idea where I live. But its also sort of indicative of the half-baked approach taken to this book, and an eye-rolling pattern I've seen in reading Palmiotti & Gray's Hex work. They aren't students of History or even The History Channel, and, apparently, neither are their editors. They seem to basically know things like "nobody is going to have a cell phone" and "we probably shouldn't show many cars", but everything else seems more or less up for grabs.

A Reminder: It's Now October. Time to Get Spooky.