Posts Tagged ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths

30
Nov
11

Classic EBI #141: Giving the Gifts of Geekdom

Christmas is quickly approaching, friends, and that means it’s time for one of my favorite Everything But Imaginary columns of the year. Today, I look at some of the cool stuff that’s available to buy for the geek on your list. It’s the 2011 Geek Gift Guide!

Everything But Imaginary #425: The 2011 Geek Gift Guide

Like many of my columns, though, this one has evolved over time. Let’s look back at an early one, from 2005.

Classic EBI #141: Giving the Gifts of Geekdom

It’s December already, friends! Time to deck those halls, jingle those bells, and get out those credit cards, because you’re rapidly running out of time to get your Christmas shopping done. Now as longtime readers of this column know, I love Christmas. If I’d been born in Whoville, I would have fit in perfectly.

More important, for the purposes of today’s discussion, it’s time once again for the Everything But Imaginary Guide to Shopping For Your Geek. If you’re lucky enough to be a Comic Book Geek who has a Comic Book Geek to shop for, well, this column is most definitely for you. But if you’re a Geek who just hopes to get cool stuff this year – well, clearly you’re going to have to resort to drastic measures, such as “accidentally” mailing the link to this column to everybody you know, printing it out and slipping it into your girlfriend’s magazines, taping it to the steering wheel of your mother’s car and other such time-honored holiday traditions. So take a look at what we’ve got lined up and have this column with you when you visit Santa – you don’t want him to forget either, do you?

Now the first thing to consider for that special Geek, of course, is going to come from the DVD aisle. Geeks of all stripes have always loved movies, but since the advent of DVD and their full-season boxed sets, commentaries, outtakes, behind-the-scenes documentaries and other special features, it’s been a Geek paradise. And it’s been a heck of a year for Geek DVDs. First up, there was the phenomenal motion picture Batman Begins – hands-down the best Batman movie since… well, since the invention of celluloid. You’ll want to be careful getting this movie for your Geek, though, as Warner Brothers released it in both a single-disc barebones edition and a spiffy two-disc set full of keen extras, including a mini-comic reprinting the first Batman story from Detective Comics #27, a Dennis O’Neil classic and the first issue of Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Then, of course, there is the eternal struggle between widescreen and fullscreen, but if you need me to explain to you why widescreen is infinitely superior then you, my friend, are not a true Geek.

Then there are all the other great Geek DVDs that hit this year. To coincide with the release of Batman Begins, Warner Brothers released two-disc “special editions” of the four previous Batman films, and the first two of those would sit proudly on any Geek’s DVD shelf. (Anyone who has a copy of Batman and Robin on his shelf must immediately explain that his Great-Aunt Sophie, who doesn’t know any better, is the one who gave it to him, and that the only reason he hasn’t burned it is because she’ll want to see it on the shelf when she comes over to visit.) 2005 saw the beginning of the sets featuring the classic Adventures of Superman television show starring George Reeves, two volumes of which are now available. Two more seasons of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series came out, as did DVDs featuring Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Lois and Clark, plus Smallville is up to season four on DVD. And what Geek collection would be complete without the new releases of The Greatest American Hero?

Now I should caution you, when buying DVDs for the Geek in your life, you’re going to want to be careful not to duplicate anything already in his collection. Be sure to scout out their DVD shelf and take careful inventory of what he already has and what he is missing. If you don’t live with your Geek and don’t have ready access to his collection, you may have to employ agents such as a spouse, sibling or parent to scout out the collection on your behalf. Don’t be ashamed to ask these people for assistance: they have a Geek in their lives as well, remember, so they understand. Geeks – try to make it easier on the people in your life. I know it will be difficult to resist the urge, but stop buying DVDs for yourself between now and Christmas. They’ll still be there when the after-Christmas sales begin. Keep the shelf as it is now. Except, of course, when Serenity is released on Dec. 20 – I don’t expect anyone with taste to be able to resist that.

DVDs, of course, are not the only item on your favorite Geek’s Christmas list. He or she most certainly wants a buttload of toys as well. If you have been paying attention to what your Geek is a fan of, then you should know what to look for. The DC Direct line has had dozens of new releases this year. From Green Lantern Corps and Crisis on Infinite Earths figures to extentions of their Silver Age Superman and Batman lines, there’s something for everybody.

Marvel has also upped the ante on their Marvel Select and Marvel Legends lines, including sets of figures that include parts you can put together to build Galactus or a Sentinel. They’ve also introduced their new action figure game, Super Hero Showdown, which includes some really cool figures of their classic heroes and which any Geek will enjoy. Getting a Geek any sort of game, of course, is another danger zone. If you don’t want to play the game with him yourself (although you should), make sure he has someone to play with, or else you, as the person who gave the gift, will be recruited.

The great thing about toys is that they have a lot of cross-gender appeal – the female Geeks out there dig them too. Things like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures are quite popular, as well as some of the really nice statues and dioramas that are available. My own girlfriend, Erin, has continually expressed her desire for the Harley Quinn maquette that was available all-too briefly at the Warner Brothers stores (and if anyone out there knows where I can acquire one at a price I can afford before I land my million-dollar book contract, I would be forever in your debt). It’s just a matter of knowing your Geek, knowing what they like, and making sure it winds up under that tree before the 25th.

And finally, of course, there are books. Books books books books books. Did I mention books? Novels, graphic novels, movie scripts, behind-the-scenes books. This was a golden year for Star Wars fans, with a billion books that came out to celebrate the final film in that franchise. There’s the novel of Episode III, the graphic novel adaptation, the junior novel, the “Art of” book, the “Visual Dictionary,” the “Making Of” book, the Star Wars Visionaries special and lord only knows what else I may be leaving out.

Your Geek’s tastes may vary, of course. They may be into Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series or David Mack’s Kabuki. They may be looking for the hardcover collections of Superman/Batman or Ultimate Spider-Man. They may be into Stephen King, Clive Barker, Orson Scott Card or Isabel Allende. Basically, you’ve got to employ the same tactics for books as you do for DVDs – scout out their bookshelves and see what they already have. That way you’ll know exactly what not to get and, in the case of a series, exactly what they need. Ah, Christmas. ‘Tis the season for subterfuge.

So that’s all you really need to know to shop for your Geek this year. Head out to the stores, have fun, and help them load up on cool stuff. It’s easier than you think.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: November 30, 2005

It’s taken a long time, but the revelation of Ruin’s identity in Adventures of Superman #646 was a real mind-blower, easily winning that title my Favorite of the Week last week. It was someone I’d never suspected, but who made sense considering the character’s history, and the way writer Greg Rucka used Mr. Mxyzptlk, casting him in an entirely different light, one that was really unique. A really strong issue, a really surprising story.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

 

07
Jul
10

Classic EBI #54: Crossover Crisis

You know the drill by now, friends. First of all, let’s look at this week’s Everthing But Imaginary. Earlier this week, Devil’s Due Publishing announced that they’re cutting off ties with Diamond Distribution. Why did they do this? What does it mean? See my thoughts here:

Everything But Imaginary #358: Breaking Away or Breaking Down?

Next, let’s look at this week’s classic Everything But Imaginary. This week we’re going back to March 21, 2004…

Crossover Crisis

In the past, friends, we have talked about the inter-company crossover, those rare occasions where Superman and Spider-Man cross paths, or Batman puts a hurt on the Punisher, or when Aunt May trades wheatcake recipes with Martha Kent. While it’s always fun to see characters from different “universes” come into contact with each other, these crossovers are usually pretty hollow because no lasting changes can be made due to the need not to infringe on the regular titles. Even if that wasn’t an issue, there would still be the problem of referring to events that included a character you can’t legally refer to. Although it would be funny, every once in a while, to see Wildcat talking to Billy Batson and saying, “Hey, remember that time… no, wait, that was the other Captain Marvel…”

There is, however, another kind of crossover that rings much truer, where things can be changed. I’m talking about the intra-company crossover, where all of Marvel’s characters or all of DC’s characters unite to face off against some major threat or some terrible crisis. The first major company-wide crossover I am aware of came in 1984, with Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars, in which the mysterious Beyonder kidnapped the most intriguing (read: best-selling) heroes and villains from the Marvel universe, dropped them on a distant planet called Battleworld, and told them to duke it out for his amusement. (Surprisingly, Brother Voodoo and Diablo got to stay home.) The story was 12 issues and wound up telling a pretty satisfying yarn, including some of the best Doctor Doom sequences ever.

The story was so popular, in fact, that before the heroes even had time to unpack their bags back on Earth, Marvel launched Secret Wars II, in which the Beyonder came to our planet. This story was not quite so well-received, but it was significant in that it helped spearhead something that would define crossovers in the future: a main story in the titular mini-series and other chapters spread out among the regular issues of all the Marvel titles. The story wasn’t contained in Secret Wars II, the Beyonder carried out parts of his agenda in many other titles, including Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four and even Dazzler.

At around the same time, DC Comics was launching the crossover that would not only define the entire genre, but give the shorthand name for such an event: Crisis on Infinite Earths. Similar in structure to what Marvel did, this event was contained in a 12-issue miniseries about time collapsing and worlds being destroyed. (This was done in an effort to “simplify” the DC Universe. Frankly, I didn’t think it was in need of simplifying — science fiction fans had no problem with the concept of alternate realities for generations, why did comic book fans? But that’s another column.)

However, across nearly every DC monthly at the time, as well as several miniseries and specials, other effects of the Crisis were felt. New heroes were introduced. Old ones were laid to rest. The whole thing was so well done that even today, 18 years later, I’m still trying to get all of the official crossovers (mostly for the prestige of being able to say I have all of the official crossovers, including Losers Special #1).

The crossover was a hit and, like any other hit in the field of entertainment, it had to be repeated. The year after Crisis, DC gave us Legends. Then Millennium. Then Invasion . Some of these were more successful than others, but they all had the same basic format — a miniseries to contain the main story and “bonus” chapters spread across other titles that readers could get or ignore as they wished. Although it bears noting that while people were willing to shell out $100 bucks for a hardcover collection of the 12 main Crisis issues, you can probably make a complete set of the Millennium miniseries and all its bonus chapters in your nearest quarter bin.

Marvel, at the same time, took a different approach, abandoning the miniseries and instead hosting crossovers in a family of titles but spreading out to affect others. When demons swarmed on New York in Inferno, Spider-Man and Cloak and Dagger mixed it up with them in their own titles, but the main battles were fought in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants and the X-Terminators miniseries.

A couple of years later came the Acts of Vengeance crossover, in which a mysterious mastermind who would turn out to be Loki, Norse god of trickery, convinced supervillains to attack each other’s enemies in order to gain the element of surprise. This resulted in unusual battles like Mandarin versus the X-Men, the Gray Gargoyle versus the Hulk and Typhoid Mary versus Power Pack. The crossover would touch everyone from the Punisher to Quasar, but the story began and ended in Avengers, Avengers West Coast and Avengers Spotlight.

Then both companies struck upon a gold mine for crossovers: the annuals. For years most comic books had an annual double-sized edition. With Evolutionary War, Marvel began the practice of running a single storyline through all of these annuals. DC followed suit with Armageddon 2001. Marvel gave us Atlantis Attacks. DC gave us Bloodlines.

Other companies got into the act. Valiant had Unity. Eclipse had Total Eclipse. Malibu had Genesis. Even Image had stuff like Shattered Image, Altered Image and, my personal favorite, Mars Attacks Image.

Then something happened. People started to get fed up with the crossovers. They felt it was a cheap ploy to get them to buy books they ordinarily wouldn’t have just to have the complete story. They felt that the stories themselves weren’t worth it (and with junk like DC’s Genesis, who can blame them?) Frankly, I think this frustrated attitude is indirectly the reason we no longer have annuals today. The last time any major company-wide crossovers were seen was in 2001, with DC’s abysmal Joker: Last Laugh and Marvel’s “Okay-but-not-good-enough-to-justify-20-crossovers” Maximum Security.

But while I sympathize, and even agree, with those who hate crossovers because of the “gotta get ‘em all” mentality, I can’t deny that there is a certain thrill in seeing lots of characters come together against one menace. Isn’t there any common ground?

You bet there is.

Just a few weeks ago we found it in Secret War (notice the lack of pluralization) by Brian Michael Bendis. Nick Fury discovers that all of the two-bit hoods in the Marvel Universe, the ones who aren’t smart enough to program a VCR but walk around with high-tech weaponry and nuclear reactors strapped to their backs, are all being supplied by a singular source, meaning they are no longer supervillains, but instead meet the definition of terrorists. It’s such a simple, brilliant idea, and future issues, which promise Fury putting together a superhero task force to fight the ultimate evil, should be great.

It’s a story that won’t have crossover “bonus chapters,” but whose implications for nearly every Marvel title are clearly evident. It’s something I can’t wait to see played out.

I’m hoping for something similar with DC’s Identity Crisis (there’s that word again) coming out this summer, a storyline about which no one seems to know anything except that someone will die and it’s somebody important enough to show Superman crying in the preview art. At CrossGen, several of their titles have come to an end with a promise of their storylines being concluded in Negation War.

Major ramifications. No cheap stunts.

The crossovers of the future, friends. Let’s hope they stay this way. (2010 note: They didn’t.)

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 10, 2004

It’s not that long ago that my two favorite comics at Marvel were Avengers and Thunderbolts. Now I don’t read either title anymore, for obvious reasons. When Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, the writers that put those titles in the upper tier for me, got together for a miniseries bringing back the latter from oblivion and the former from mediocrity, I jumped at it. The first issue of Avengers/Thunderbolts was a fine start, showing us where the Thunderbolts are since we left them at the end of Nicieza’s run and why the Avengers feel a need to stand against them. Throw in fantastic artwork by Barry Kitson and you’ve got the recipe for a great comic book.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

17
Nov
09

Toy Stories: Crisis in Toyland

Depressingly, local stores haven’t been keeping the DC Universe Infinite Heroes figures in stock lately. And frankly, it’s been pissing me off. But fortunately, MattyCollector.com is giving us a few exclusive figures to help me get through the drought.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Figures

Crisis on Infinite Earths Infinite Heroes

This set includes four figures, each packaged individually but only sold together… so, whatever… Each is a character that figured prominently in the classic 80s crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. Let’s go through them, shall we?

The Psycho-Pirate Reigns!

First up, here’s the Psycho-Pirate, a rather obscure Justice Society villain who rose to prominence during the Crisis. He drew power from his “Medusa Mask,” a golden mask that gave him the ability to generate any emotion he so chose. He was notable after the first Crisis as being the only character to remember the DC Multiverse after the worlds were merged. He died a few years back in Infinite Crisis, and it wasn’t much of a loss. He wasn’t used much in the intervening 20 years, and with the return of the Multiverse the thing that made him special wasn’t special anymore. He’s back now, as a Black Lantern, where his power is causing some serious damage.

Who Monitors the Monitors?

Who monitors the Monitors?

The Monitor was introduced in the Crisis for the first time, where we was revealed to be the being who watched over (in other words “Monitored”) the Multiverse. He died in that story as well, but when the Multiverse was reborn, it was revealed that there was now one Monitor in each of the 52 universes. This is a cool-looking figure, but has very limited playability, with the stiff plastic skirt, shoulder pads, and cape keeping him from moving very freely.

"I'm tellin' ya, Wally, the fish was thiiiiiiiiiiiis big!"

Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, is one of many heroes who met his demise in this storyline (although like many of them, he’s come back to the DC Universe, and he’s currently one of the stars of Blackest Night as well). It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the expression on Barry’s face tells us this figure is intended to represent him at the very moment of his death. Cheerful, huh?

"You should see the OTHER guy..."

"Seriously, you should have seen the OTHER guy."

The last figure in this set was the original Supergirl, Kara Zor-El. She’s come back too, but not in exactly the same form. It’s more like she started from scratch. And speaking of scratch, she too bears the scars of her final battle in this figure. To be honest, this is my least favorite Supergirl costume ever. I think it’s the headband. But the figure needed to be had, if for no other reason, than because of the packaging…

"Well... this is awkward..."

"Well... This is... awkward..."

Don’t get it? Maybe this will help:

The act of imitating a classic comic book cover has become commonplace. These “swipe” covers (or, if you prefer a more dignified term, “homage” covers) are considered by many fans, myself included, to be a lot of fun. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a swipe action figure package.

12
Sep
09

Toy Stories goes from Gotham to the Multiverse

It’s that time again — although the DC Infinite Heroes pickings have been slim lately, I’ve gotten my hands on a couple of special items, one of which I’ve been seeking for a long time.

Gotham Knights: Deadshot, Batman, and the Scarecrow

Gotham Knights: Deadshot, Batman, and the Scarecrow

Some time ago, there was an Infinite Heroes three-pack released based on last year’s animated feature film Batman: Gotham Knights. I looked for this pack seemingly forever, and had pretty much given up hope until my recent ordeal with the DMV. After one of my fruitless drives out to Houma to try to get my driver’s license renewed (which I finally accomplished, by the way), I had a little time to kill before I drove to Thibodaux for my night class, so I stopped in to the Houma Wal-Mart. Even though I didn’t expect to find anything, I checked the toy aisle… and there it was. A wonder to behold. The last Gotham Knights three-pack, possibly in existence.

As you can see, the Batman figure isn’t that wild. The paint job is a little darker than the regular Infinite Heroes figure, the body a different sculpt to reflect the Anime-inspired style of the movie. But it’s a decent figure. The other two are much cooler, though. Deadshot was utterly redesigned for the movie, looking nothing like the current incarnation of the character and only a little like his original version. The Scarecrow keeps his scarecrow attributes, but is much creepier looking with his extra pair of arms. I’m really happy I found these.

The second figure is an online exclusive, only available at Mattycollector.com:

The Anti-Monitor

The Anti-Monitor

The Anti-Monitor here was the Big Bad of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths series back in the 80s. He returned during the Sinestro Corps War storyline, and is currently being held in the core of the Black Lantern in Blackest Night. The figure is cool — not as much articulation as the regular figures, but that’s kind of a necessity of the sculpt. He’s a little taller than the usual 3.75 inches as well. It’s definitely a cool addition to the collection.

12
Aug
09

Everything But Imaginary #318: Universe Closing-Merge Right

DC Comics, once again, is snagging characters from defunct universes and importing them into their own — but it’s not like this is new, and it’s not like they’re the only ones who have done it. Let’s take a look at this (I’m sorry, I can’t resist the pun) “universal” phenomenon. Plus: the pick of the week-Love and Capes #11!

Everything But Imaginary #318: Universe Closing-Merge Right
Inside This Column:

21
Sep
08

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 85: The Return

We’re back! Chase and Blake, along with their emergency back-up geeks Mike and Kenny set up shop at BSI Comics to record a new batch of episodes! This week, the guys discuss what it’s like to be a comic reader in a hurricane zone, tell about their Gustav and Ike experiences, and most importantly, dish on the comics they’ve read since they’ve been out. In the picks this week, Blake likes Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2, and Chase endorses Savage Dragon #137. Thanks to everyone who has stuck with us during the unexpected hiatus, and let’s hope we don’t have to do it again. E-mail us with your comments, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Episode 85: The Return
Inside This Episode:




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