Thursday, April 2, 2009

Episode 1: In which Hoopla is returned to its right and proper place in the universe and much rejoicing is done

Hello and welcome to...



Right. Well, first of all I suppose I should apologize for the extended hiatus... there was a time, many moons ago, when I used to do this as a weekly thing.

That time has clearly passed.

These days most of my time is being taken up with my teaching job, which I absolutely love, working on an article on Private Governance that I hope to get published later this year, and planning my wedding to the lovely Miss Mie Nakanishi, which will take place on the 4th of July this year.

And, of course, reading comics.

I think at this point the most I can realistically quasi-promise is a monthly column discussing the new solicitations as they come out and, perhaps, the occasional extra-special-bonus column when I happen to be in the mood.

It's not much, I know, but it's really all that seems likely to work right now.

So, let's get right to it, shall we?

Today's column is looking at books coming out in June 2009... as always, I'll be focusing primarily on Marvel and DC titles, because that's mostly what I read. Implicit in this admissionof guilt is the fact that I am single-handedly responsible for the decline of Western Civilization because I don't read a lot of indie/underground titles which are undoubtedly brilliant but which, to be honest, I have almost no interest at all in reading. Occasionally one does pop up that really grabs me... Love and Rockets, Sudden Gravity, Lords of Misrule, Shuck, Strangehaven, and so on... but I am pretty traditional in my tastes and that's the sad truth about that.

In keeping with what has been a monthly tradition for almost four years, DC has a bunch of crap coming out in June and then a handful of really good books that somehow snuck past Dan Didio's grubby little fingers...

Let's take a look...


Written by Grant Morrison

Art and cover by Frank Quitely

"Batman Reborn" begins here! With the reunited team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, WE3, New X-Men), this first issue kicks off a 3-part story arc that can't be missed! The new Dynamic Duo hit the streets with a bang in their new flying Batmobile as they face off against an assemblage of villains called the Circus of Strange. They also tackle their first mission investigating a child who’s been abducted by the mysterious Domino Killer. But will everything go smoothly? And who exactly are the new Batman and Robin? The newest era of The Dark Knight begins here! On sale June 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely on Batman and Robin. Hm. It is truly a sign of how little faith I have in DC's in-continuity titles these days that I honestly can't decide whether or not to get this.

Grant Morrison's previous issues of Batman have really not been my cup of tea. And the whole "Batman R.I.P." storyline... ugh. Just thinking about it gives me a kind of a sour feeling in my stomach. Also, this is the new Batman and the new Robin, as the original Batman is now a caveman trapped living in the past or somesuch thing.


I will probably get the first issue of this just because I am a total sucker, but I don't think I'll be getting any beyond that. I love Quitely's art and Morrison can be a lot of fun, but I really don't have a good feeling about this, particularly since it is rumored that the new Robin will be that Damien kid who showed up a few years ago. Batman's son. I hate that kid.

Meanwhile, delighted with the negative reaction to Final Crisis, DC has decided to publish four six-issue limited series spinning out of the train wreck that was their last big mega-event.

They are...






Here's what editor Ian Sattler had to say about Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!

The scope was...or rather the idea of Run! was a simple question – “How fast can we make this book?” The thing about these books is that they’re all very, very character driven, and they all have certain stylistic themes, with Run!’s being how kinetic we can make a comic? Matt had mentioned to me that he had always wanted to do a big chase and capture book with the criminal and police that takes place across different locales, and with this book, we’re really trying to see how fast we can keep the book feeling. Scenes don’t last more than a few pages as the Human Flame is moving around the country at a pretty quick clip. As we were doing this book, the test that we came up for it was us asking ourselves, “Is this Run? Is this fast enough?” And the other question we asked ourselves was how far can we push it without going into areas of poor taste. That’s not saying that we’re being shocking just to be shocking or that these are mature readers books, but we’re looking at telling different stories. I’m a huge fan of shows like The Wire and The Shield - things that are more aggressive and grittier without going into total grindhouse. It’s easy to go to that end of the spectrum, but to do it without pushing it all the way to that end is actually a lot harder, but that was the edict on all of these books, and we’ve got it in spades in Run!.

There are several things that strike me as being worthy of ridicule here, but I think my favorite part is:

As we were doing this book, the test that we came up for it was us asking ourselves, “Is this Run? Is this fast enough?”

For some reason, that strikes me as hilariously stupid.

The other thing that really stands out is that they wanted to see how close they could get to areas of poor taste. This from a DC editor.

For the past few years, one of the trademarks of most DC superhero titles has been gratuitous violence. I'm not talking about the usual Biff! Bam! Pow! that one expects in these things... I'm talking about arms being torn off of bodies, babies being incinerated, eye-balls being eaten, heads being torn off and tossed around...

Quite honestly, I think they have already explored poor taste sufficiently.

And what I really love is that Sattler identifies himself as a fan of The Wire and Shield. Those are both great shows, but what makes them great isn't gratuitious violence; it's the incredibly high quality of the writing and the acting. For that matter, I don't think it's accurate to say that The Wire in any way resembles "grindhouse." It's very realistic, yes, but it's certainly not in-your-face gore and violence. And it is definitely not violence as entertainment.

But, whatever...

Later in the interview, the Newsarama reporter asks about FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: DANCE

NRAMA: Alright – moving over to Dance...

IS: I do have to say that I love the title, and once you see it, it makes a lot of sense, given that the Super Young Team is put out on display and have to kind of “dance” for their jobs and their message. And there will be actual dancing in the books.

Get it? They have to "dance" for their jobs!!! And there will be actual "dancing" in the book.


And then there's this...

NRAMA: It sounds like something of a post-American Idol Teen Titans in a way...

IS: Exactly. That’s a good way of putting it – it’s also more or less post-American, Japanese Teen Titans too. I don’t like a heavy dose of realism in my comics – as a fan, as a reader, I don’t like it when comics gets really heavily reflective of current events, so here the metaphor is that this is very...the references are there, and people can probably draw lines, but they’re also very easy to ignore, too. But yeah – the media, and what we’ve come to accept as heroism is a really big part of Dance.

Yeah, yeah... that's the ticket! I don't like it when comics reflect current events but, yeah, it's the media and the... and the heroism... yeah! It's all kind of... Dance-y. You see? Because we're all just... we're all just dancing! You get it?!

NRAMA: And finally - Escape...

IS: Dan’s editing Escape, and the big idea with that is that it’s part Prisoner and part Saw...

That's all that really needs to be said about that. Because if there's one thing that I never ever ever want to read, it's a comic-book (or any kind of book, for that matter) that is part Saw. That's the movie that helped start the whole torture-porn genre of film that is so popular right now.

So... yeah.

It's actually sort of interesting... in a frightening sort of way... to see the above titles as a reflection of where DC is at right now. Getting too caught up in current events is no good, presumably because it would be too realistic and would ruin the fun of comics... but grindhouse violence is something that's really fun to explore.





Well, I must get out in the world for a little bit, so I suppose this is Part One of looking at the June 2009 solicitations... before we go, I feel we really need at least one good comic to get excited about, so let's close with this...



Pencils & Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

“The Origins of the Species”As the X-Men reel from the return of one of the greatest X-Ladies, Beast and Angel take the X-Club back to 1906 to investigate the origins of the mutant species as we know it. See the earliest stages of the Hellfire Club and the very first Sentinel ever! This story is not to be missed!48 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99

I'm not a fan of the X-Men in general, but this sounds and looks very much like X-Men by way of Planetary.

My prediction...? This is going to rock...

- Paul

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