Saturday, June 25, 2011


Last Friday, the Green Lantern movie hit theaters with a resounding thud. Everything from the story to the visual effects to the casting was downright lambasted across the board by both fans and critics alike. But, is the movie really THAT bad? I honestly didn't think so. I thought it was an entertaining summer movie and DVD-worthy. But, does that mean it was without its problems? Not at all.

Those who know me know I'm hyper critical when it comes to all things comics. With the industry in a slow decline since the 90s bust, we can't be anything but vigilant that our products are the absolute best (and affordable) possible. (Note: some spoilers may follow, so if you haven't seen it yet but want to, come back after you have).

The biggest problem with this production was the casting of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. Very few people besides his loyal fanbase thought this was a great idea. Reynolds is more suited for the wise-cracking Deadpool character he almost played in Wolverine: Origins and is slated to reprise (more closely to the comics) in the announced Deadpool movie. The simple fact is, he has very little range. And if he does have range, he refuses to explore it fully beyond the odd outing, like the Amityville Horror remake. As someone said to me the other day, they see Reynolds and automatically think Van Wilder, which is not exactly the perception you want going into a "serious" movie such as this.

But even despite the misgivings, Reynolds actually did a tolerable job with the role. There were some comedic moments ala the trailers, but they helped to lighten the mood in otherwise tense moments and were not inappropriately placed. Although he was still a goofball slacker as per his usual characters, this time it was in service to the story. Reynolds would probably have been better suited as one of the other Earth lanterns, either Kyle Rayner or in some ways Guy Gardner (who, incidentally, beat Jordan to live-action in 1997's failed TV pilot for Justice League of America).

Now, the story itself is where the most problems lie. Thanks to the fast-paced movie industry, movies are not allowed to go beyond the hour and a half mark without damn good reason, resulting in many scenes that should be given relevance either completely removed or cut down to virtually nothing. One such instance was the training sequence. After what was literally a five minute lesson with Corps trainer Kilowog (Michael Clarke-Duncan), Jordan was able to use his ring with pretty good efficiency mere scenes later, with the only hindrance being his inability to focus on more than one area at a time. The basic story was there and it started off fine, but there was so much crammed into it that nothing was fully allowed the chance for exploration or to breathe.

Characters also suffered from the cramming factor. As many who know even a little bit about the comics, or even watched Superfriends when they were younger, knows Sinestro eventually becomes a yellow ring-wielding villain. However, Sinestro didn't receive nearly enough screen time or scenes to establish what would lead to the shift from hero to villain, or why he and Jordan would become arch-enemies. It seemed most of the love for Sinestro in the movie came from the anticipation of what he would become, rather than anything immediately presented in the film.  Good for established fans, not so good for the average moviegoer off the street. That's truly a shame, because Mark Strong delivered a phenomenal performance with what little he had to work with.

Despite being heavily featured in promotional material, and even receiving their own prequel tie-ins from DC Comics, Kilowog and Tomar-Re (Geoffry Rush) were extremely underused characters. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) and Parallax (Clancy Brown), the film's main villains, were both altered from the comics to fit the movie. Hammond became altered by exposure to Parallax's yellow energy rather than a meteor that hits Earth, and Parallax was a former Guardian who sought to harness and use the yellow power (more along the lines of the Guardian Krona in the current comics) rather than a purely evil entity. Seriously underplayed, though hinted at, was Hammond's obsession with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), Jordan's boss and on again/off again girlfriend, which would have gone a long way towards solidifying his motivations for his evil acts. Parallax, on the other hand, received tremendous build-up only to fall far easier than he should have. Obviously DC hasn't learned the lesson about multiple-villain movies (see Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, and Spider-Man 3). Carol herself served as little more than a plot device or damsel in distress. Honorable mention goes to Jordan's family, who after having some prominence in the opening scenes disappeared entirely the rest of the film.

The CGI itself was what you'd expect from a mega-blockbuster movie. Although there were times when the integrated live-action/CGI shots (such as the suit) didn't work as well, and the green energy was a little too translucent for its own good, it was still a visually pleasing movie.

I think, what would have ultimately made this a better film, was if they took a couple of cues from 2009's direct-to-DVD movie Green Lantern: First Flight. The movie featured Jordan's training and first mission as a Lantern, but glossed over his origin story due to the producers feeling everyone was familiar enough with it. If you had taken the opening scenes from this film, and combined it with the story of that film, you would have ultimately had the best Green Lantern movie possible. Save the Earth-threatening danger for a sequel. If you're going to kick things off with a character's start, then you damn well better commit to that direction.

Bonus: Origin of the Green Lantern circa 1970s!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Promotional cover art for Kevin Keller #1
Kevin's first appearance.
This month marks Kevin Keller's solo debut from Archie Comics. For those who have been under a rock the last year, Kevin Keller is Riverdale's first gay character, debuting in Veronica #202 as part of Archie's initiative to make their Archie line more relevant to today's readers. It was also the first issue Archie comics EVER had to do a second run of, which means they obviously did something right. And, of course, with all the positive press Kevin had received it was only a matter of time before Archie gave him his own book.

Or, did they?

This month saw the release of Kevin Keller #1, the first in a four-issue limited series starring, well, Kevin Keller. As a subscriber to all of Archie's titles, naturally I put in a subscription for this to keep me from having to chase down issues all over town (my shop doesn't have the best track record with getting indie and all-ages books). However, something bizarre happened when my copy arrived: I received two copies. Archie had a glitch with my subscriptions the past couple of months where they would double-ship a few of my books, so I didn't think much of it.

Then, as I sat down to read the book, I found the real reason: Kevin Keller is actually replacing Veronica for the next four issues.

Similar to how Marvel ran dual issue numbers on their rebooted books in the early 2000s, Kevin Keller #1 featured the number 207 in a lighter font next to its number, and the indicia reads Veronica #207. Understandably, this is a cost-saving move rather than launching and registering a new title for a new UPC. However, the fact it was marketed and offered as a separate book is a bit misleading to the consumers.


For starters, you'll have people like me who already have a Veronica subscription and subscribed to Kevin. On the other side, you may have people who have no interest in Kevin who are stuck getting him for four months of their subscriptions. This can prove either a good introduction for the character, or an irritation for the readers.

UPDATE: While the digest subscription ads remain the same, the regular issue ads now include a notation about Kevin being part of the Veronica subscriptions.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Marvel's last consistently published book is about to come to an end.

Started in 1963 under simply X-Men, it became Uncanny with 1978's #114, and has been retroactively known as it since. Although it was technically cancelled with #66, the series ran reprints until #93, when the all-new X-Men took over in #94 from Giant-Size X-Men #1. The only time the book ceased publication was for the four months it became Astonishing X-Men for the Age of Apocalypse event. And that's what sets it apart from the rest of the Marvel line.

Spider-Man's books were reduced and rebooted once before combining into just one title under its original numbering. Captain America is currently on his 5th volume and about to go into a 6th. Fantastic Four had three volumes before becoming FF. Avengers had just begun its 4th volume after having been broken up into two titles for several years. Hulk had an initial 6-issue run before taking over Tales to Astonish, losing his Incredible adjective, then regaining it before returning to his original numbering.

As you can see, the realm of reboots is a confusing mess.

Hot on the heels of the latest X-Men event, Schism, the X-Men will be shaken up as never before as Cyclops and Wolverine go to war for leadership of the team. Writer equates it to the X-Men's version of Civil War.

On CBR, Tom Brevoort was quoted as saying:

"Uncanny' is the only book with an unbroken run...I would not assume that it's safe. Maybe that makes it a little less likely because it's the one title we've got that maintains continuity all the way back to the '60s. But again, in terms of publishing today in 2011, 2012, 2013 -- the need of right now is probably going to outweigh the need of 'it's nice that we have this thing that goes back to the '60s.' If there's a benefit to there being an 'Uncanny X-Men' #1 because we're building something in a substantial way and we want to give people that entry point, maybe we'd hesitate a fraction of a second longer, but I think it'd be only a fraction."
 More than likely, an Uncanny #1 will be on the way shortly after the original book ends. The current mentality is that people are put off by large run numbers and feel a #1 is a good place to jump onto a book. However, in truth, what attracts new readers is good stories within the pages first and foremost. Publishers are so concerned about the packaging that they forget the actual product.

So, where does this leave X-Men? Find out in October.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


One of my opening posts in this blog was heralding the achievement of reaching 900 consecutive issues of Action Comics, with the 900th of Detective Comics on the way.

Then, DC decides to throw a monkey wrench in all that.

Apparently, DC is once again rebooting all their titles complete with tweaked continuities, and this time they’re leaving a Crisis out of it. Hot on the heels of their latest event, Flashpoint, in which Flash is mysteriously sent to another dimension, DC announced that the day the last issue of the event comes out is the day they begin their new runs, starting with Justice League #1. After that primer, 51 more titles (52 total, the number of universes DC has) will follow starting the following week with all-new #1s.

Here’s DC’s official blog post on the launch:
If you know us, you know we both hate secrets. In fact, you might’ve seen one (or both) of us have a grin or two on a convention panel recently. Why? Because it’s hard to keep a secret as big as the news we shared yesterday.
DC Comics will be making history this September. We’ll be renumbering the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues. We’re publishing innovative storylines featuring our most iconic characters helmed by some of the most creative minds within the industry.
Not only will this initiative be compelling for existing readers, it’ll give new readers a precise entry point into our titles. And on top of that, all of these titles will be released digital day-and-date across the board.
Yesterday was just the beginning. After all, we don’t want to spoil the many surprises we have up our sleeves. It’s so important to us to make sure you maintain those feelings of excitement and unexpectedness when you pick up a new issue of our books.
We’re energized and looking forward to have you come on this journey with us as we make history this September.
–Jim Lee & Dan DiDio, DC Comics Co-Publishers

So far the exact changes are being kept under wraps, and the titles themselves were slowly being leaked through the DC PR machine. The initial books were Justice League Dark, Nightwing (yes, Dick Grayson is being demoted), Birds of Prey (which relaunched barely a year ago), Batwing (one of the new Batmen recruited for Batman Inc.), Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight and Detective Comics (all now starring Bruce Wayne and his son Damien as Robin), the much-anticipated Batwoman that has been constantly delayed, and several others. The one bound to be the most controversial is Batgirl, which looks like it has Barbara Gordon returning to the role since she became Oracle after being paralyzed in 1988’s The Killing Joke.

The goal, DC says, is to put stories first and make books accessible to new readers, which will be helped by their new day-and-date publishing (releasing an online downloadable version the same day as the print version, instead of one before the other). So, it looks like they took a page from the Marvel book to risk alienating their existing fanbase for the sake of the possibility of a new one.

I am not a fan of reboots. Reboots or retcons. I deem them unnecessary and lazy, unless you’re bringing back a cancelled title after a period of time. #1s don’t have the same allure they did back in the 90s. Hell, even then, the allure was the anticipation that every #1 was an instant-classic and thus a good investment. Plus, I don’t buy into the whole starting over for accessibility argument. When I started reading comics, the books I read were 30 years into their current storylines. I managed to catch up just fine.

What disheartens me, besides the return to horrid 90s-style costume designs, is the unknown fate of several of my current favorite characters. If Barbara is Batgirl again, what happens to Stephanie Brown? Despite the crappy name and costume, where does Tim Drake’s Red Robin fit into all this? Gotham City Sirens was a guilty pleasure every month, playing on the friendship of three villainesses begun back in the Batman cartoon. On the plus side, I am looking forward to the new Justice League International after the teaser we got in Generation Lost and Blue Beetle back in his own book.

The rundown so far (from Bleeding

1. Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (read more)

2. Justice League International #1 by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti
3. Teen Titans #1 by  Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund (read more)
4. Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy (read more)
5. Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales (read more)
6. Superman #1 by George PĂ©rez and Jesus Merino (read more)
7. Superboy #1 by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva and Rob Lean (read more)
8. Supergirl #1 by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud A. Asrar (read more)
9. Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. (read more)
10. Detective Comics #1 by Tony Daniel (read more)
11. Batman: The Dark Knight #1 by David Finch (read more)
12. Batgirl #1 by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes. (read more)
13. Batwoman #1 by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder (read more)
14. Catwoman #1 by Judd Winick and Guillem March (read more)
15. Red Hood And The Outlaws #1 by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort (read more)
16. Batwing #1 by Judd Winick and Ben Oliver (read more)
17. Nightwing #1 by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows (read more)
18. Batman And Robin #1 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (read more)
19. Birds Of Prey #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz (read more)
20. Green Lantern #1 by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy (read more)
21. Green Lantern Corps #1 by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna (read more)
22. Green Lanterns: New Guardians #1 by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham and Batt (read more)
23. Red Lanterns #1 by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes and Rob Hunter. (read more)
24. Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis (read more)
25. Wonder Woman #1 by Brian Azzarello #1 and Cliff Chiang (read more)
26. Flash #1 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul (read more)
27. Green Arrow #1 by JT Krul and Dan Jurgens (read more)
28. DC Universe Presents #1 by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang (read more)
29. Savage Hawkman #1 by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan (read more)
30. Blue Beetle #1 by Tony Bedard and Ig Guara (read more)
31. Fury Of Firestorm #1 by Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar. (read more)
32. Mr Terrific #1 by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson (read more)
33. Captain Atom #1 by JT Krul and Freddie Williams II (read more)
34. OMAC #1 by Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish (read more)
35. Static Shock #1 by Felicia Henderson, John Rozum, Scott McDaniel and Jonathan Glapion. (read more)
36. Hawk And Dove #1 by Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld (read more)
37. Deathstroke #1 by Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett and Art Thibert (read more)
38. Legion of Superheroes by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela (read more)
39. Legion Lost #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods (read more)
40. Grifter #1 by Nathan Edmondson, CAFU and BIT (read more)
41. Voodoo #1 by Ron Marz and Sami Basri. (read more)
42. Stormwatch #1 by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda (read more)
43. Animal Man #1 by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green (read more)
44. Swamp Thing #1 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette (read more)
45. Justice League Dark #1 by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin (read more)
46. Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert (read more)
47. Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE #1 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli (read more)
48. Resurrection Man #1 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino (read more)
49. I, Vampire #1 by Josh Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino (read more)
50. Blackhawks #1 by Mike Costa and Ken Lashley (read more)
51. Sgt Rock And The Men Of War #1 by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick (read more)
52. All-Star Western #1 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Grey and Meridat. (Vigilante by Darwyn Cooke in the back?) (read more)

Details for each book can be found here.

It should be noted that there are several books missing from this list, including the just recently started Batman Beyond, which reportedly IS continuing despite all this. How much truth there is n that, well, we need to wait and see.