Posts Tagged ‘DC Universe

03
Jul
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 228: Rampant Speculation

It’s a busy July 4th Weekend, so Blake fires off this quickie, answering some listener e-mail regarding the works of Kevin Smith and DC’s all-ages content, then moving on to a new segment on the show: RAMPANT SPECULATION! Each week, Blake and the crew will select a solicit for an upcoming book and try to figure out what it’ll be about, beginning with September’s Green Lantern: The New Guardians #1. And in the picks, Blake digs FF #5. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 228: Rampant Speculation


24
Jun
11

New looks in the new DCU

As you’re probably heard by now, especially if you read my columns or listen to my podcast, starting in September DC Comics is relaunching its entire line. This means restarting every title with a new first issue, launching several all-new titles, and tweaking the continuity and costumes of several long-standing heroes. Looking at the stuff that’s been announced so far, I’m mostly excited. There are some changes I don’t like (Harley Quinn’s new costume) and omissions that I’m not thrilled about (Power Girl and Xombi), but we’re also going to get ongoing series for great characters like Mr. Terrific (who has never had one before), new starts for deserving characters like Static, and the integration of the Wildstorm characters in the DCU. There’s a lot of potential there.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about much, though, is what the books are going to look like. I heard a quick reference somewhere that seemed to imply the books will have new logos and a new trade dress, which is to be expected, but so far we’ve only gotten one glimpse of them: what will apparently be the new logo for The Fury of Firestorm.

Firestorm is one of those characters that’s been around for a long time — over 30 years now — and he’s got a devoted following, but he’s never quite cracked the upper echelon of DC’s top heroes. I’m really looking forward to reading this title, though, because I do like the character and the creative team of Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar is a great combination.

What interests me at the moment, though, is this logo. It’s a cool look — contemporary, with that sort of spiral coming from the “O” that I think is intended to evoke the atomic nature of his powers. It’s also very different from his previous logos:

Firestorm’s popularity has waxed and waned over the years, you see. This is the fourth attempt at a solo series for the character, and at least the seventh logo. Looking at the older ones, it looks like they either tried to evoke the “fire” part of the name or the “nuclear’ element, with only the sixth one (bottom right corner) trying to bring in both.

I was looking at this and thinking about it, and I suddenly found myself wondering… when did I become such a nerd for logos? I blame the great comic book letterer Todd Klein, who often runs logo studies on his blog, where he goes through all of the different logos a particular character has had and discusses the design. I never really put a lot of thought into them before, but I’ve really come to appreciate logo creation as an art form of its own.

This, of course, got me thinking about the other logos. Will DC change them all? They haven’t said one way or another, but I think it’s highly possible. Even something as venerable as Superman’s logo is probably up for a change. And unlike most other characters, the changes to Superman’s logo over the years have either been small or temporary. Look at the graphic to the right — the logo from the first issue of Superman and the most recent issue. Small changes — turning angles into curves, streamlining the characters, but it’s still clearly based on the original design. Bigger changes (like during the dreaded “Electric Blue” period of the 90s) never lasted. It’s kind of like the costume that way — small changes have taken, big ones have gone away. Of course, he’s also getting a slightly different look, so a very different logo I think is very possible.

Then there’s the question of related titles. This new DCU will feature three different Justice League titles, numerous characters in the “Batman” family, and of course, the four Superman-related titles. My question is, will the logos for these titles have any sort of visual link? The Batman books often don’t, but the Superman titles — except for Action Comics — have been pretty uniform. Supergirl and Superboy, as you can see to the left, have had the same basic design as the Superman logo for the past twenty years or so. I like this. It gives them a nice, uniform look, and makes it plain that they’re all part of a group of titles. But this hasn’t always been the case. Before the late 80s or early 90s, the characters often had very different logos, both from Superman and from each other:

The real question, I suppose, will be of the characters themselves. In this “new” DC Universe, will they still be the close-knit family they are now? If so, I’d like whatever new logo design they have to reflect that by sharing some elements. If not, going completely different with each of the three characters may make sense.

It’s interesting. While there are a lot of new DC books I’m excited to read, I’m actually interested in how all of them are going to look.

01
Jun
11

Classic EBI #93: The Worst of 2004

So, if you’ve got any interest in the world of comic books at all, you probably heard about yesterday’s pretty big announcement. DC Comics is planning a massive, line-wide relaunch of their superhero universe. We’re still not really sure exactly what form this relaunch will take, but I’ve never let that stop me from pontificating before. My immediate thoughts and gut reaction make up this week’s all-new Everything But Imaginary.

Everything But Imaginary #401: An All-New DC Universe?

But here at the ‘Realms, we stay classic. This week, we’re dipping back to December 2004, when everybody was making their “best of the year” lists. I decided to go a little different this week…

Classic EBI #93: The Worst of 2004

Here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters, there are two things we like more than anything else: any confectionary or pastry filled with chocolate pudding, and great comic books. Unfortunately, not every comic out there is great, and sometimes a light must shine down on the depths.

Now don’t worry, we’re going to cover the best in comics in the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards. But since part of the EBI mission statement is to talk about how to make bad comic books better, sooner or later, that means talking about the bad.

Worst Relaunch: Challengers of the Unknown. How many people know about Challengers of the Unknown? Well, back when comics were allowed to be fun, the Challengers were a group of explorers — scientists, daredevils, etc. — who miraculously survived a near-disaster. Deciding they were now living on “borrowed time,” they banded together to push back the boundaries of the universe. It may not be the most famous property in the DC Universe, but its simple innocence has always held a lot of appeal to me.
The Challengers miniseries DC published this year, however, had none of those things. It didn’t have the characters, it didn’t take place in the DCU, and it was anything but simple and innocent. In this version, Howard Chaykin ramped up a bloated, messy conspiracy theory about a group of bland, obnoxious characters who were under attack by some horrible shadow government.

Now it’s well documented that I’m not really a fan of conspiracy stories, but I can at least recognize when one is done well. Take The Losers for instance. Not my cup of tea, but it’s well written, deep, layered, and I can understand why people enjoy it. It’s just not my thing.

Challengers, on the other hand, is completely incomprehensible to me. I like Chaykin’s work — heck his Bite Club miniseries was one of my favorite titles this year — but every page of this comic dripped with venom and bile, which was flung at any target even remotely divergent from the writer’s own political screed. The satire was the sort that not only beat you over the head, but then dropped you off a cliff just in case you didn’t get the point, none of the characters was even remotely likeable and the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. I want to see the real Challengers back, DC. I hope never to see these pretenders to the throne again.

Worst Cancellation: Sentinel Now I know a lot of people are going to be ticked that I didn’t pick Captain Marvel, but to be honest, I wasn’t that sad to see the title end. I used to enjoy it, but after Genis had been insane for over a year, the book lost its luster for me and I never got into it again. I was sorry to see it go for the sake of those who did enjoy it, but personally, I didn’t feel much anymore.

Sentinel, on the other hand, floored me. I got into it late, reading the Marvel Age Digest and picking up the last six issues when I dropped by the Wizard World Texas Convention, and I was astounded at how good it was. It was a teenage comic that didn’t drift too far into the soap opera. It was a book tied to the X-Men that didn’t require encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe. It was a comic that featured a single father who wasn’t drunk, abusive or absent, but was actually a positive figure in his sons’ lives. Is that sort of thing even allowed in comics anymore?

This book had so much going for it, even a definite direction to take the characters after the series ended, and it would be a true shame if Sean McKeever never got the chance to tell us what Juston Seyfert’s final fate was.

Worst Overexposure: The X-Family. I remember not too long ago, a time when there was an effort to trim the line of X-Men related comics. Several titles were cancelled, others retooled, and the series was streamlined.

What happened?

This year saw the beginning of no less than seven new ongoing X-titles, and I’m not even counting New X-Men: Academy X (as that is a retooled New Mutants) or Excalibur (as that could theoretically be a replacement for X-Treme X-Men). But we still got Astonishing X-Men, District X, Cable & Deadpool, Rogue, Gambit, Nightcrawler and Jubilee (which, to be fair, was retroactively turned into a miniseries as its sales began to plummet).

Now Astonishing is probably the best book in the line right now, and I don’t really mind three core titles since each features different characters (except, of course, for Wolverine). District X also gets a thumbs-up as it’s only an X-book in the sense that it’s about mutants and has Bishop as a supporting character (acting as a cop and not a superhero, and not coincidentally, becoming interesting to me for the first time ever).

And there are a couple of cancellations on the horizon too — Mystique and Emma Frost. X-Statix ended, but that barely counted as an X-book, and Weapon X got the axe only for us to learn it will return as a series of mini-series.

And speaking of miniseries, how about Wolverine: The End, Sabretooth, Wolverine and the Punisher, X-Men: The End, Wolverine and Captain America, Madrox, Wolverine and Richard Simmons, X-Force etc. Oh, and how about X-Force? Anyone remember the days when stilted artwork and big guns and shoulder pads sold comics instead of plot? Happy days are here again.

We get it, Marvel. People like the X-Men. The X-Men sell a lot of comic books. I don’t even really blame Marvel, they’re a business and they’ve got to make money. I blame the fans who keep turning over their pockets for the same old thing again and again while great comics like She-Hulk, The Monolith and H-E-R-O languish in the shallow end of the sales charts. There’s a lot more out there, folks.

Worst Marketing Capitulation: Organic Webshooters. For the record, I was not one of the people totally incensed when Spider-Man, in the movie, had organic webshooters growing in his arms rather than building them himself. I thought it lost a chance to display Peter Parker’s intellect, but overall, it was a minor thing and the spirit of the character is the same. But I have to draw the line when a little tweak from the movie is crammed into the comic books with a crowbar, especially as it was in as bad a story as this Spectacular Spider-Man story arc. So Peter turns into a giant spider and, when he turns back, has organic webshooters and can talk to insects. I’ll let somebody else argue that spiders aren’t insects, we all know that already, but really Marvel. Are you that worried that a kid who saw the movie will read a comic only to see Spider-Man with a little metal thingie on his wrist and then run away in horror? I don’t mind change, folks, but I do mind when story is sacrificed for something so clearly a marketing concern.

(I have similar misgivings about Wolverine being crammed into New Avengers, but I’ll withhold my ravings about that until he actually appears in the title, that I may make a more informed rant.)

Worst Treatment of a Character that Deserves Better: Action Comics. You had to know this is coming. I have not missed an issue of a Superman comic book in 15 years. If I weren’t reviewing it every month with the DC Comics advance books, I would have dropped Action Comics at least six months ago.

Superman is supposed to be the top, the pinnacle, the greatest superhero in the world. So somebody please explain to me why Chuck Austen insists on writing him as (alternately) a stupid frat boy, an arrogant jerk or a brow-beaten weenie? What’s even more frustrating is the fact that, as evidenced in JLA #101, Austen is capable of writing Superman in-character. He just doesn’t.

Even the treatment of Clark Kent isn’t as appalling as how the supporting characters are treated, though. Lois Lane is cold and stoic and Lana Lang has no other characterization other than an urge to jump into bed with Clark Kent, dredging up a story that was over and resolved over ten years ago. If a woman in real life were this obsessed with her high school sweetheart in her mid-30s, she’d be called a stalker. We actually had a pivotal plot point revolve around Lois finding a pair of Lana’s underwear. It was like reading a Days of Our Lives comic book. Then of course there are brilliant villains like Repo-Man and Sodom and Gomorrah, and our old buddy Preus, whose characterization involves picking his favorite “lowly, disgusting” human females and having sex with them until they are dead.

This is Superman. I don’t know on what planet storylines like this are supposed to be appropriate for this title, but I can’t imagine it’s Earth or Krypton. This is worse than bad, it’s nauseating, and it has to stop.

The good news from all this, friends, is that 2004 is almost over. 2005 is a brand-new year, and a new chance to turn things around and get things right. And while there are a lot of difficult problems in comics, the ones I’ve outlined in this column are all pretty easy to fix. We just need comic publishers with the guts and the foresight to do what anyone reading the comics knows is right all along.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: December 15, 2004

Anyone remember Bullpen Bits? Anyone remember Spidey and the Mini-Marvels? Not enough of you do, that’s for sure, or else they’d still be doing them. But Chris Giarrusso is back with his own creation, G-Man, in a one-shot from Image comics. Giarusso has a lot of fun with this book about a kid who wants to be a superhero in a strange world where such things seem to be pretty commonplace. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s sharp enough for adults to like it and it’s clean enough to share it with your kids. If you want to have fun with a comic book, look no further. I hope there’s more G-Man in the future.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

 

 

31
Oct
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 194: The Halloween Special Special

Happy Halloween, Showcase listeners! This week, the boys sit down to talk about some of their favorite Halloween specials, movies, comics, and TV shows, including a horrific revelation about Mike! (You may want to cover the kids’ ears for this one.) In the picks, Mike recommends volume one of The Boys, Kenny goes Halloween with Superman/Batman #77, and Blake goes with Ragman: Suit of Souls #1. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 194: The Halloween Special Special


 

20
Jun
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 175: Toy Story-The Commentary

With the third Toy Story movie tearing up the screen, Blake and Kenny sit down this week to provide their commentary on the original 1995 Toy Story! So pop in your DVD and listen along as the boys discuss the franchise, the sequels, the comics, Pixar animation, animation in general, and a series of old Louisiana Natural Gas commercials. Who says this isn’t the Showcase Age of the Wild Tangents? In the picks, Kenny liked Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1 and Blake digs DC Universe: Legacies #2 with a bonus graphic novel pick: Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 2! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 175: Toy Story-The Commentary
Inside This Episode:


28
Feb
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 160: DC’s New Crew and More

There’s a new crew in charge of DC Comics, and this week, Blake and Kenny discuss the implications for the publisher, the comics, the movies, and more! Plus, in the chatter this week, True Blood creator Charlaine Harris comes to comics, a couple of high-priced auctions lead to a discussion of comics as investments, the guys chat about the current season of Lost, and Kenny drools over the new DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe toy line! In the picks, Blake takes Colt Noble and the Megalords #1, and Kenny likes Blackest Night #7. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 160: DC’s New Crew and More
Inside This Episode:

09
Feb
10

Toy Stories: Ring-slingers, Kryptonians, and Public Enemies

Next week, Erin and I will be winging our way to Las Vegas to spend Mardi Gras week away from the lunacy of New Orleans. (She likes it more than I do.) So I thought maybe I should get around to showing you guys the Infinite Heroes action figures she got me at Christmas before we went. I think that’s fair…

"Fear me!" "Love me!" "Fear me!" "Love me!"

It seemed natural to pair up Sinestro and Star Sapphire. With all the different colored Lanterns running around in Blackest Night, these were the two preexisting “other Lanterns” that Geoff Johns included in the mix. I’m a little disappointed that Mattel didn’t put Sinestro in his current, far superior costume, but the classic costume is okay. Both of these are fairly standard figures for the now-finished Crisis wave of Infinite Heroes. Neither is sporting the new body sculpt that the 70th Anniversary figures that we’re getting this year have. But they’re decent enough figures, and I’m always impressed when they can paint a tiny little ring on someone’s finger.

"Wait, how does THIS schmuck get to wear the 'S' while I still have a hole in my costume?"

Power Girl and Superboy-Prime (I know he was calling himself Superman-Prime when he wore this costume, but he’ll never earn that name) are paired off since they’re both Kryptonians, of a sort, from alternate universes. PG is one of my favorite DC characters, and star of one of their best comics right now. The figure does her justice, even if she does need the stand to stay on her feet like every other Infinite Heroes female. Prime is just a repainted Superman figure. Nothing to say about the sculpt, but the paint job looks good, and I’m glad they didn’t subject us to the mullet.

Animated Coolness

These two three-packs actually didn’t come from Erin, but from her mother. Thanks! I looked all over southern Louisiana, but came up short looking for the action figures that accompanied last fall’s Superman/Batman: Public Enemies direct-to-DVD movie. There’s another six-pack out there, which I would like to get as it includes such characters as Major Force and Gorilla Grodd, but the pack also includes duplicates of Superman and Batman. If you’re going to duplicate a character in the same line, is it too much to ask that you at least do a variant? After all, this is the movie in which those two disguised themselves as Captain Marvel and Hawkman. Those would have been great figures. But I digress.

These six figures are all movie versions of characters I already have in the standard DCU edition, so I thought it would be interesting to compare.

"Okay, so I'll stop that metor from hitting Africa and you put on the suit and glasses and show up at the Daily Planet this week..."

Let’s compare the Supermen first. The original Superman figure is on the left, the animated figure (as it will be in all these pictures) is on the right. At first, I didn’t really see much difference, then I realized the Public Enemies figures are sporting the new body types. In the male figures, the big differences are at the hip and shoulders, both of which are now ball joints which allow for greater posabilty. This I like. What I’m not as happy about is that the torso is a bit skinnier now. If you look at the two, you’ll see that the first Superman has more of the classic barrel chest. This goes for all the male figures in this line, except (for obvious reasons) Lex Luthor.

"What's that, Lex? Didn't hear you. Suffering from a little rocket envy there? Heh. That's okay, you can say it..."

The sculpts of the two Lexington Q. Luthor figures is almost identical, except for the center chest-emblem. Oh, and the big honkin’ rockets on the shoulder of the Lex on the left. Other than that, the onyl difference is in the paint job. Visually, I much prefer the Public Enemies figure — much more colorful, vibrant paint job. But I wouldn’t say that in front of the guy on the left.

"Wasn't I already in this article once?"

Fortunately, Erin gave me the “classic” Power Girl just in time to compare her to her Public Enemies counterpart. Unlike the male figures, it doesn’t seem the females got any change in sculpt for the new series. But they’d already made a small change a while back, making the legs thicker and sturdier. Still not enough to stand up without a base, though. Again, just in terms of the vibrancy of the colors, I think I prefer the animated figure. Probably has something to do with trying to imitate the animation.

"Oh, so you were still on Earth at the end of the movie, huh? Well lemme tell you what happened in the COMICS..."

The new Captain Atom really shows how the change to the leg sculpt will help pose these figures. You can spread the legs wider and make them a bit more stable with this sculpt. In terms of color, it’s hard to pick a favorite. The DCU Cap has more of a silver color, but PE Cap has kind of this blue steel thing going on that also looks really good.

"So neither of us is Dick Grayson? Man, this is awkward..."

Batman is the only hero to come out of Public Enemies with a darker figure than his DCU look. Again, he’s sporting the new sculp, and if you look closely, you see that the shape of the utility belt and the bat-symbol on his chest are a little different. The cape sculpt, I believe, is identical between the two figures.

"So do you think we have any 'electricity'? Huh? Heh? Do ya? Heh, heh..."

"So do you think we have any 'electricity' together? Huh? Heh? Do ya?"

Last but certainly not least, we end up with Black Lightning, the role for which Levar Burton must have cashed the smallest paycheck of his career. Seriously, why would you cast such a great actor and only give him one line in the movie? Sheesh. Anyway, PE Lightning has the new sculpt, and a very different costume from his comic book counterpart. And again, I prefer the Public Enemies look. I just think it’s a better costume, and I think Black Lightning looks better with hair. Just sayin’.




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