Monday, February 25, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 5: DC Comics - Back in the game!!!

"...And there came a day

Lo, after much crap had been published

When the Powers That Be did say "Enow!"

"Let us not continue to peddle this drivel but,

Rather, let us put out some good comics

By talented writers and artists

And without quite so much Continuity Incest

And blood-shed."

And the clouds, they did clear

And the sun, it did shine

And the people were free to purchase DC Comics

Once again..."

- from the book of Hoopla!


Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

As you may have guessed from the above, I'm feeling pretty happy with DC these days... after a deluge of crap, they're finally starting to put out some comics that I actually want to read!


I'm not that difficult, really. Not everything has to be Alan Moore level of greatness. I don't require brilliance from my Justice League of America or cutting-edge innovation in my Green Lantern.

I'm not asking them to re-invent the wheel... heck, I'd like it if they'd just learn to leave that wheel alone! Stop knocking it over on its side and setting it in flames and calling the dark, toxic fumes that emerge from the melting rubber "entertainment."

All I'm asking for is a little Smash! Bang! Pow! That's all. Sure, maybe there was a time when I wanted more from my comics... when I felt a little bit bored with the same old, same old... but the past few years of DC have shown me the error of my ways.

I didn't know how good I had it!

I don't want them to make "real" changes with "long-lasting" effects! I don't want them to try to resolve the friggin' continuity every ten minutes. Yes, the continuity makes no sense.

It's okay!!!

Just please... in the name of God... leave it be!!!

I just want to read a good comic-book.

Is that so much to ask?

Well, it looks like DC is finally getting the message (after only one year of plummeting sales) and in May of 2008 they've got a whole bunch of nifty stuff coming out...

Stuff like... this...


Written by Fabian Nicieza

Art and cover by Kevin Maguire

Kicking off a 5-part story by Fabian Nicieza (X-Men) and Kevin Maguire (Justice League INTERNATIONAL)! Batgirl crosses paths with the Catwoman for the first time... and that's bad luck, especially for Batgirl's father: Commissioner Gordon! On sale May 14 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I've never purchased an issue of Batman Confidential before, but holy shluh-moley!!! Kevin Maguire is a pretty easy sell... there's not much that I wouldn't buy with his art in it. The fact that it stars the early version of Batgirl and is written by Fabian Nicieza... well, that's just the icing on the proverbial cake, as the kids like to say.

I hereby predict... quality!!!

Meanwhile, over in Batman and the Outsiders, which I've been enjoying in a good-but-not-great kind of way, we have this nifty cover of Metamorpho...

Who wouldn't want to buy a comic about Metamorpho being pulled into a Washing Machine of Doom???

Er, that is a Washing Machine of Doom he's in, isn't it?

May also brings us the first issue of Final Crisis, which I'd originally intended to skip, but I read an interview with Grant Morrison in which he promised that it will have nothing at all to do with re-booting the DC universe again...

Neat cover, anyway. Very striking.

Speaking of Grant Morrison, one project that I'm not so excited about is the upcoming "Batman R.I.P." storyline, of which this "splitting headache" cover marks the second issue...

That was a grammatically twisty moment, wasn't it?

" project that I'm not so excited about is the upcoming "Batman R.I.P." storyline, of which this 'splitting headache' cover marks the second issue..."

Yeah, I don't know about that. If one of my students tried to pass something like that by me, you can be sure I'd circle it and in the margin I'd write "Awkward grammar."

I always say "Awkward grammar" instead of "grammatically awkward" because I'm not actually certain how to spell "grammatically." Does it end with an -ally or an -ly? I don't know. And I'm too damn lazy, er, busy to look it up.

Anyway, yeah, haven't really been enjoying Morrison's run on Batman, which kind of surprised me. It's interesting, too, because I just read this interview with him in which he discussed it and, reading the interview, I kept thinking, "Wow. That sounds really cool."

I had to keep reminding myself that I'd already read around ten issues of the damn thing and I didn't really enjoy any of them.

So, go figure.

And you know, back in the day I'd feel more compelled to pick something like this up just to find out what the big event is... I mean, obviously they're not really going to kill Batman, but something is going to happen... and I'm just naive enough to think it's going to somehow be important or noteworthy. Maybe he'll lose an arm? Turn red? Get married? Get divorced? Make a deal with the devil? Get a fourth... no, fifth Robin?

I'm curious, sure. But the great thing about the world today is that we have the internet... which means that I'm going to know the big secret approximately ten seconds after the first person reads that issue... so, even if I purchased "Batman R.I.P.," I'd know what happened long before I actually read it.

So, that's cool.

Just think, if we'd had the internet back during the days of Knightfall... oh, the money I could have saved...

This is a tough one.

The above is the first issue of a 12-issue Batman story illustrated by Kelly Jones.

Kelly Jones draws a rockin' good Batman, despite the rather dopey looking cover illustration.

[And seriously... GREEN? Whose bright idea was it to place a NEON GREEN background behind Batman??? Um, people? He comes out at night. That means you can use black, dark blue, or maybe a dark crimson if you want to suggest blood. Those are your options. You may NOT use SUNNY YELLOW, JOLLY ORANGE, PINK of any kind, or NEON GREEN.]

Anyway, it might be good... but it's written by Steve Niles and, nothing against the guy, but I've not yet read a comic by him that I thought was any good.

Yes, the concept for 30 Days of Night was very clever. I acknowledge that.

But his actual writing...?

Mediocre, at best.

So, I just don't know...


Written by Steve Niles

Art and cover by Kelley Jones

"There are things that go 'bump' in the night. Be thankful that one of those things is on our side…" When the full moon rises and casts its eerie glow over the land, the creatures of the night come out to hunt and feast and prey on the innocent citizens of Gotham City, and only one man stands in their way: The Batman. These are the bizarre and frightening case files of the Dark Knight Detective, featuring grave-robbers, men making monsters, night terrors, and the debut of an all-new moonlight monster known only as Midnight. In this fatal first issue by the creative team of Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, SIMON DARK) and Kelley Jones (BATMAN: RED RAIN), Batman will come face-to-face with the Master of Fear himself - but just what is the Scarecrow after? And what does it have to do with the Axeman? Could it be some elaborate scheme to trap the Bat? Be here at the beginning - and beware! On sale May 28 o 1 of 12 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I just like this next cover... I like that giant, grinning alien coming at you, just asking for a hug...

"Marty... how are ya...?"

That's what I imagine him saying, somehow.

And now, Best Cover of the Year...

I've not yet read a single issue of Tiny Titans, and yet already it's my favorite comic-book series in the world.

Go figure.

This next cover, which I actually find rather non-descript, is for the first issue of House of Mystery, which I think is going to be very, very cool.

Here's the solicitation:


Written by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham

Art by Luca Rossi

Cover by Sam Weber, Variant cover by Bernie Wrightson

Matthew Sturges, writer of the Eisner-nominated JACK OF FABLES, and his JACK co-writer Bill Willingham, proudly unlock the doors to the HOUSE OF MYSTERY, a new ongoing series that reinvents a classic DC Comics concept. HOUSE OF MYSTERY focuses on five characters trapped in a supernatural bar, trying to solve the mystery of how and why they're imprisoned there. Each one has a terrible past they'd like to forget, and with no books, newspapers or TV allowed in the House, they face an eternity of boredom. But stories become the new currency, and fortunately, the House attracts only the finest storytellers.

In addition to the ongoing trials and struggles of the five unfortunate souls trapped within the HOUSE OF MYSTERY, illustrated by superstar artist Luca Rossi, each issue in the first storyline also includes a short tale, as told by one of the customers, written by Willingham and illustrated by a host of fine guest artists, including two-time Eisner Award nominee Ross Campbell (WATERBABY, Wet Moon), SANDMAN fan favorite and multiple Eisner winner Jill Thompson, and classic horror artist Bernie Wrightson, whose first published work was in House of Mystery #179. This series is topped off with ethereal, jaw-dropping covers from Sam Weber (The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time Magazine)and a stunning variant cover by Wrightson on the debut issue.

"This is a book where you can have a pirate, a psychic detective, a spaceman, a French romantic poet and an NYU film student sitting at a table having a beer together. It's a writer's dream come true."— Matthew Sturges

“Let's be perfectly clear: There isn't just one mystery in the new House of Mystery. It's actually chock-full of mysteries, all of which will be thrilling and exciting as they unfold over the course of the series.”— Bill Willingham

On sale May 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS

Okay, so that looks... cool.

And on that rather in-eloquent note, I must to be going...

There's loads more stuff I was hoping to cover, but the time... it does not permit...

On a quick, more personal note, I would just like for the record to show that this month... that is, February of 2008, has been one of the suckiest months I have lived through in many, many years... and I am glad to see it fading into the distance behind me...

Here's hoping that March is a little bit more user-friendly and a little bit less full of cactus-in-the-eye moments...

- Paul

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