Tag Archives: DC Comics

The New 52: DC Comics Starts Over (Sort of) with Justice League #1

As you may know by now, DC Comics is scrapping (almost) all of the last 80 or so years of their Comics and starting over with a fresh batch of 52 different #1 titles, including re-boots of every character from Superman on down. It’s a bold move, a polarizing one, with the potential to cost the publisher as many fans as it awards them. I, for one, am exactly the kind of reader DC is trying to pick up. I’ve been collecting since I was 12, but for the last ten years only pick up a handful of books a year due to budget and continuity concerns. For example, I tried following the ‘Death of Bruce Wayne’ plots last year but got lost quickly and gave up. Now, with all new plots and clean slates, I will be (tenatively) checking out a  few titles to see if this is something I can get into. After reading Justice League #1 however, it’s no sure bet.

This #1 is officially the first title of the new Universe, the only one released this week before DC starts pumping them out a dozen a week. This is our first look at a new, younger, more current group of classic superheroes. With seven figures blasting off our cover, we delve into Justice League #1. And we get…cops chasing Batman.

Huh. That…that seems like pretty familiar territory. As the text tells us, it’s “Five Years Ago” and Batman is leaping after an unidentified figure, Gotham’s finest following in helicopters, ordered to “bring them both down.” Rough. So, yea, it’s very much Year One styled mayhem here, as Bats dodges the cops and keeps up with the creep. His first line of the new Universe by the way?

what you talking 'bout?

Here’s the thing about this new Universe that I didn’t really explain yet. It’s all new…sort of. See, the minds behind this move have chosen to keep certain things going here, and set up certain characters as they were at odd times. Best case in point. Barbara Gordon is again the original Batgirl, going back on the events in Killing Joke. But, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is still Nightwing, his persona after he grew up. So, we are to presume that within the first few years of Batman’s existence, he had several Robins, a Batgirl, a Batwoman (don’t forget her) and a slew of other adventures that previously took him decades to accumulate? Does this Universe have a Jason Todd? Is he dead? Too many Questions to begin, and that’s only one character.

Anyways, Batman grabs his prey, an alien looking brute with glowing eyes, and proceeds to question this creature like it’s a regular street thug. “What were you doing at the docks?” Uh, there’s probably more pertinent questions here, Batman, like what Hell is that thing? After the alien bashes him around a little we are introduced to Green Lantern, who drives a truck through the bad guy, and seems positively stunned to find the Batman really exists. So now it’s clear what we’re doing here. Each and every member of the Justice League has to actually meet face to face. Oh man, you guys. This could take awhile. I mean, we spend the next dozen pages exploring these two beloved characters like we’ve never heard of them. Green Lantern can do what? How? Wow!

It’s totally necessary, I know, if you’re acting like no one knows each other. You gotta do it right, but this gets tedious quickly. Although I do love Lanterns reaction to finding out Batman has no actual powers.

Basically, both these guys come off as cocky, self absorbed power trippers. Lantern especially takes a cavalier attitutde to his power, much like Ryan Reynolds did this summer in theaters. Can’t help but feel like writer Geoff Johns isn’t really trying anything new as much as retelling an old tale with new dialogue bubbles. And really, that is what makes this #1 a fairly underwhelming read; it’s entertaining yes, seeing Batman do anything is entertaining. But, we are just meeting our old characters in new tights, I guess I need to know why.

So, the alien they’re kinda sorta going after as they banter (the cops are long gone threats) blows hisself up real good while Batman presumes rather than deducts everything and Lantern just acts all “I got this bro” showy and we get a brief cutaway to some high school football game outta nowhere. Well, this four page detour is all a set up to our token black hero, football star kid named Vic Stone who’ll soon com to be known a Cyborg when some crazy accident or something makes him get all bionic. I’m just guessing all that, all I now for sure is his daddy is too busy studying superheroes to come to his games, wah wah.

Anyways, the alien is dead, but he left a box. Batman presumes it’s a computer, and Lantern’s all, “hmm, it’s alien technology. You know who’s an alien? That guy Superman in Metropolis. Let’s go ask him about it.” OK, I guess that’s a good reason to go meet Superman. They do and yep, they find him, and Superman immediately looks for a fight. Typical Kal-El. And that’s where we end, with a young looking Superman ready to rumble with Batman and Green Lantern. At this pace, it should take about 8 issues to meet everyone and probably another 8 to get them to stop fighting each other and form a League of heroes. I just don’t know if this story is good enough to commit to yet. I figure that DC Comics is a pretty big beast at this point, being 52 titles strong. Surely, that’s a helluva load to get off the ground, but if Johns and crew can get it up in the air, we might get to see some interesting places. Just don’t hold your breath.

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Comic Books Are Awesome: Watchmen

This is a bit of an introduction into my love for the graphic novel. Here I will quickly talk about a great story now being turned into a movie, a tricky feat at best.

To begin, Warner Bros own DC Comics. This is why every Batman and Superman film is a Warner Bros picture. About ten years ago, it seemed those franchises were dead, along with the comic book movie in general. Batman had laughed itself into obscurity, as did Superman a decade before that. Do you remember Superman IV: The Quest For Peace? Shudder.

But lately, comic book movies are basically the shit. Batman Begins showed the executives that a serious storyline and good direction could actually make a guy in a Bat Suit look cool  and badass. It worked. The film was eaten up by the fans, but more importantly, respected by the mass audience.

This actually started even a little before Batman Begins. Spiderman and its sequels made a buttload of cash, as did the X-Men movies, and Sin City was considered pretty astounding, but really, we have been getting some crazy amount of superhero movies lately.

And it is because people who did not watch comic book movies, like The Punisher or Hulk, saw these newer ones and actually liked them. They wanted more. And they got it.

In lieu of the latest 200 million dollar budget monstrosity from Warner Bros. (The Dark Knight cost $180 million to make) I thought I would take some time to talk about the source. Alan Moore’s 1987 masterpiece-Watchmen.

YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!

YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!

I originally read this comic in it’s entirety about ten years ago (and have re-read it countless times by the way). I bought the trade paperback edition on the advice of the local comic store clerk when I told her I was bored with the usual superhero stuff I’d been reading lately. Yes, I said “her” meaning this was the coolest girl I had ever met at the time, but I digress. She told me that I could either abandon superheros all together and read boring comics, or I could read this. She pointed it out on the rack, and something inside me said, “Do it. Read this.”

I admit, I collected comics starting in about third grade, after receiving a Spiderman story for Christmas. The story was cool, action packed, and a total cliffhanger! I had to buy the next one. Another cliffhanger! Again and again. I got deeper and deeper, developing a love for Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and all those guys. Some I loved more than others, some I didn’t really care for, but in general all my money went to comics for a solid ten to twelve years. It was only when allowances ended and finances increased, on gas and rent and food, that I stopped collecting in the rabid fashion I did. But I never lost the love.

And for that love I was rewarded with some of the most BULLSHIT COMICS OF THE DAY, including Spiderman’s clone saga-a two year story about how Peter Parker was just some clone and not the real Spiderman, which made no sense and eventually led to nothing changing. And then there was the Onslaught situation, where Professor Xavier destroys Magnetos mind, only to have it transform into some kind of unstoppable monster thing that the whole Marvel Universe DIES trying to defeat. Only to lead to nothing again, all back to normal next week. Infuriating.

Thankfully, I had stuff like this to keep me going. Watchmen is over twenty years old at this point, but is still one of the most inspiring and controversial comics in history. Many call it the best there is, hands down. I could see that. Certainly it is as close to perfection as a story could get, as far as creating a universe and world for its characters to inhabit, a world at once recognizable, but with an alternate reality sort of vibe.

The characters, specifically, the masked adventurers, are both realistic and extraordinary to behold, especially the frightening Rorschach-a mysterious and intimidating figure behind an ever changing ink blot mask, and The Comedian- an amoral vigilante turned Government operative. These characters take paths that are believable and face the consequences of a society not entirely sympathetic or thankful for their actions. Indeed, vigilantes are outlawed in this world, one full of Big Brother Government and an impending Nuclear War hysteria.

Then there’s this guy. . .

Ummm, pants? Seriously. It's obviously creeping us out.

Ummm, pants? Seriously. It's obviously creeping us out.

Dr. Manhattan is the first superhuman in the world, a real life Superman who is the result of a nuclear accident. He basically does whatever the fuck he wants, no longer feels any connection to humanity in general and spends most of the story living on Mars. He’s awesome.

Dr. Manhattan is one of the most well written characters I have ever come across, cold and distant, he is no longer the man who stepped in the particle whatever machine. He is like a God, thinking of people the way we think of ants, and yet he can remember the past. He can remember warmth and affection and human relationships, he just no longer holds any stock in them. I know, sounds stupid, but its actually deep. Way deeper than I can adequately explain.

The twelve issue saga is wonderfully illustrated by Dave Gibbons, who is probably the only name you’ll see in the films credits. Ever since the movies botched Alan Moore’s previous comics the man has been all, “Fuck you and No, you can’t use my name. Get lost.” Which I kinda like. If you’ve seen League of Extraordinary Gentleman, you understand what I’m talking about. They blew it.  But really, even his other works have gotten a rough treatment. From Hell was o.k. but they totally changed the ending and therefore the entire tone of the story. V For Vendetta was decent, but really, Natalie Portman? Puu-lease. So its understandable that Moore could care less if people associate his name with crap. The man doesn’t need that kind of publicity.

Still, I’m hoping that Watchmen does him proud. It looks fan freakin’ tastic, and the director doesn’t quite have his head ALL the way up his own ass (although the Dawn of the Dead remake was as stupid as it was pointless). So here’s me with fingers crossed hoping this. . .watchmen-cover-12

Doesn’t turn into this…watchmen-babies

-Charlie

PS: DO NOT FUCK THIS UP for us Fox Studios. You will not be liked. Think Metallica suing Napster. How did that go for Metallica? Don’t be pricks.

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