Thursday, July 28, 2011

Funnybook Battle: Fear Itself vs Final Crisis

Haven't done one of these in a while...

While we gazed ever more deeply into the as-yet-insubstantial navel of the DC Reboot, lots of other stuff was going on in the funnybook world, too. For instance, across the street at Marvel, Matt Fraction has very quietly turned their big event crossover series Fear Itself into something transcendent.

Not transcendent in the way Grant Morrison's Final Crisis was transcendent, understand. That book took the tropes of these big crossover event comics and raised them up, transforming them into something that was at once literary, and mythic on a grand scale. It sent many of its readers into paroxysms of impotent on-line anger in its obstinate insistence on being difficult, and is either the very apex of “event comics” storytelling... or a complete piece of unreadable crap, depending on your point of view.

What Fraction's doing in Fear Itself is neither that ambitious, nor that divisive, in spite of the two series' many surface similarities. He's playing with the same tropes as Morrison, the same end-of-the-world grandeur, and the same mix of myth and literary ambition. He's even using the same exhausting, never-stop-to-take-a-breath “super-compressed” storytelling style (and, frankly, improving upon it by exercising a bit more clarity). But he's doing all that to very different ends.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm Not Ignoring You...

...Blogspot simply won't allow me to post comments on my own blog. I get stuck in a log-in loop, and the comments never make it to the site. So my apologies to anyone who's commented and didn't get a response. I don't mean to leave you hanging. But it appears I have no other choice.

Just, you know... FYI...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DC Reboot Round-Up, Part Six: At Last, the Cynicism!

We took a little break after completing our run-down of all 52 series of the DC reboot. Because that was some exhausting shit. But now we’re back with an overview of the apparent mentality behind the New DC.

In a word, that mentality seems to be “lowbrow.”

Okay, okay. That’s fun to say, but it’s not entirely fair. I think they’re actually taking a very widespread approach that embraces many different types of readers. There are books for their current Fanboy audience, books for lapsed readers who grew up in the 90s, even a handful of books aimed at freaks like myself. But honestly, all continuity changes aside, I don’t see anything they’ve solicited as a major move away from the kinds of funnybooks DC’s putting out now. The real change here seems to be in the marketing, and in a renewed focus on the characters with the widest name recognition. Which is a smart, smart move for them, I think.


Stupid is the New Smart

I’ve also gotta say that they’re doing their best to make it sound like they’re dumbing things down across the line, or at least aiming more for the lowest common denominator. Which, certainly, is one tried and true way to grab for the brass ring of the mass audience. It’s the road Hollywood’s chosen to take in recent years, anyway, and it’s hard not to see more of a Hollywood influence coming into DC these days, what with half the company being relocated to Los Angeles and the Warner Brothers suit who’s been put in Paul Levitz‘s old job.

Then there’s the Dan Didio one-man dumb comics road show. DC’s Co-Publisher is out there talking shit about “talking head comics” at retailer summits across the nation, and pushing the idea that the New DC will be all about action, action, and more action. He’s even said that the movies are making better comics than the comics themselves. Which is an easy thing to say, but… Outside the Raimi Spider-Mans, I’m not so sure he’s right. I mean, the first two acts of Iron Man were great (you know, the talking parts). But it falls apart in the third act when it tries to do the super hero stuff. And that’s generally considered the best of the lot.

But I’m getting off-topic. Between Didio’s antics, an upcoming series from the writers of Transformers (a film so stupid it made me ashamed to be a dork), and an obvious attempt to grab for the Twilight audience that turns this guy…

…into this guy…

…I can’t help but think that the New DC isn’t exactly going to be challenging my intelligence very often.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

DC Reboot Round-Up, Part Five: ...Aaand the Rest!

So here we are on the final lap of the Round-Up, but we’re not out of interesting things to talk about. In fact, the first book on our list today is a transplant that may be the key to understanding the post-reboot DC Universe…


The Team: Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda

The Premise: Much as I‘ve been enjoying coming up with pithy and/or sarcastic summations of these books, the solicit for this one is so complicated that I’m just going to quote it verbatim:

They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world. Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds…

So… wow. Let’s unravel that one step-by-step, shall we? Well, the book’s core premise is pretty easily summed up: Stormwatch is a super-human secret police force. Pretty simple, and something of a tonal shift for the DCU. Because “super-human secret police” is not a concept I could see existing in this world as we currently know it. But Stormwatch is a concept being brought over from Jim Lee’s Wildstorm universe, formerly an Image Comics imprint, until DC bought them out early in the Noughts. The Wildstorm books have continued publication set aside in their own separate continuity ever since, their importance and sales constantly declining under DC’s stewardship (and, it must be said, editorial interference).

But now DC is bringing Wildstorm into the mainline DCU fold, and with it, if this book‘s premise is anything to judge by, something of Wildstorm’s more realistic (or, honestly, perhaps just bleaker) tone. And so: super-human secret police. Again, that’s not something I’d have expected to see in the DC Universe as it stands now. I mean, there’s Checkmate, I suppose, but honestly… Checkmate? Even with Mr. Terrific and Alan Scott attached, that group’s never been one I’d consider a serious threat if, say, the Justice League went rogue. Stormwatch, on the other hand… This is the team that went on to become The Authority. You know, the super-team that killed God. If they wanna shut the JLA down, that’s one hell of a fight.