|Apr. 15th, 2007 12:19 pm OYL, oyl: Part Deux, Son of a Teenaged OYL.|
I had just started buying Manhunter in trades, though I was nowhere near caught up by the time OYL began, so it was a significant jump from my perspective. Subsequently, I’m not sure how jarring it would be for Jane Everyfan. OYL Kate is on the other side of the courtroom and defending Dr. Psycho. I love Kate Spencer, and I love Dr. Psycho so this should be an easy sell. It was good, but it wasn’t great. Maybe it suffered from ‘might-be-cancelled-at-any-moment-itis’ or something. It rushed to its ending and fell back on yettanother scene where someone suits up in front of a crowd full of people and everyone conveniently forgets. In a comic that otherwise is sans contrivance, it was a little weird. The second arc was apparently hand-picked by Didio to save the series, whether that’s true or not it’s a little bit great. It’s a more relaxed, and back to what I love about the series in its earliest issues. This time Kate defends Wonder Woman for the murder of Maxwell Lord. Albeit a little weird that this is still a major issue, it apparently kicks off their next big event, so I guess it could wind up forgiven. Kate with Wonder Woman, Batman, pseudo-Blue Beetle, and Superman (so far) is a little bit great. Buy more Manhunter, save this series. In other news, Marc wrote the upcoming Nightwing Annual that explains WTF with Dick and Babs, which is overdue, and hopefully means he’ll stick around even if Manhunter goes the way of the dodo.
Here we go. Let’s not even split hairs, the first arc was atrocious. Straight shit. An utter betrayal of everything good and right about Richard Jonathan Grayson. If it wasn’t a BND it was something entirely worse, something I don’t even know I have a clever catch-phrase for. I can’t even begin to describe its uncharacteristic awfulness. Didio apparently had to hear it twice: You do not fuck with Nightwing. You can kill Superman, you can break Batman’s back, you can make Wonder Woman a murderer, but you show some respect when you talk about the original Boy Wonder. To Didio’s credit he only had to learn this lesson that second time. Without delay he summoned the cavalry. The Wolfman himself. Other than bringing back the man who reinvented Robin (not to mention the DCU 20 years ago), Didio also brings us a peace offering in the above-referenced annual. I hear plans are in the works for a Nightwing Day Parade and soon after funds will be set up for the “I’m Really Sorry I Doubted Dick” Scholarship Fund which will help orphaned circus performers find crazed billionaires obsessed with nocturnal mammals to adopt them. It’s a start, Dan. It’s a start.
Wolfman Marv is back and everything is starting to feel like home again. There’s a subplot where the Monitor(s) are obsessed with Dick (who isn’t?) which is cute, b/c it nods at Dick’s slated death and “miraculous survival”. Wolfman mixes some stupid-fun comics with genuine characterization and hits one out of the park. I hope this is built to last, b/c I’m having a lot of fun and Dick could use to be recoronated to his rightful station as moral backbone of the DCU.
There is one problem, and that’s the problem of 101 Nightwings OYL. According to this comic Dick cut his time short with Bats and Tim to move to New York, make a new name for himself, and fight Jason Todd --who is also Nightwing for a minute (if their intention was to make Jason Nightwing OYL then there’s another lesson they would’ve learned twice). Other than Dick being made into a vapid jackass, this alone wouldn’t be a problem. However, we’ll pick this thread back up in a minute.
Hey! Nightwing! What’s going on, where have you been? On a stakeout in Africa for 6 weeks? That’s weird. Did you know there’s two Nightwings in New York right now and at least one of them should probably still be out with Bruce and Tim? In a world that promised us a cooperative push for continuity, Nightwing sticks out like a sore thumb. To be honest, the 101 Nightwings isn’t as bad as the 1,002 Supergirls, but it’s still annoying. Each Nightwing (add another Nightwing for the difference in Jones’ and Wolfman’s run) behaves completely differently. From super-vapid cipher, to square-jawed good-guy, to morally gray antihero, to blahblahblah. Dick is finally stricken with the same disassociative personality disorder that has plagued Bruce for the past 20 years. In Outsiders, Dick feints as the moral backbone, but then stares down Alan Scott and Superman in short order. Truth be told, too many Nightwings is better than none, and having to unwrite his death probably left writers and editors running to catch up.
Enough about Dick, let’s talk about Dick. Just kidding. The whole of the Outsiders is still Too-Cool-For-The-DCU, but since that’s the design you can’t fault it for working. Winnick bottles lightning twice by starting a story, and then segueing neatly into flashback which culminates in the upcoming Annual. Fair enough. The lead story isn’t the most inspired thing, but it’s alright. Lots of mad scientists and comic-booky schemes. Winnick strikes again by making Monsieur Mallah and the Brain gay for each other, but that’s actually been a long time coming. From what I’ve read of Outsiders before OYL, I should think most of the fans got to stay fat and happy with the tone and scope of the series. Tt should be in good hands moving forward. As it stands I’m at least sticking with it through the Annual, but might drop it thereafter to save myself three bucks a month.
More betrayal in the Batworld, and more fanboys and girls howled. This time it’s Cassandra Cain. They’ve recently fixed this situation which is good of them. Maybe that’ll learn’em that what they want us to want around the office isn’t actually what we want. Probably not, but it’s worth hoping. Beyond the ridiculous bit about Cassandra, Robin has actually been an okay book. I wouldn’t slap it out of the hands of a 12yo, for instance. Unfortunately both Batman and Robin are written completely differently than in their other books, but thus is the curse of the Icon. I prefer the Robin in Robin to the Robin in Teen Titans right now (oddly, Beechen is given co-credit for TeenTitans). The only thing missing is some love for Stephanie, but it’s not a bad “young” book. There are some cute moments that spawn out of Tim’s adoption, but it’s weird to see Batman admit to hurting all the time and getting old. Or defending himself to Tim that he didn’t mean to crash his date. It’s actually kind-of refreshing. It reminds me of Devin Grayson’s Bats in his softer moments. Now if they can just sneak in a scene about not hating Stephanie it could be perfect. Robin is definitely recommended if you’re tired of the wangsty Robin of Teen Titans.
I hate you Bill Willingham. I thought about leaving it at that, but I might as well explain. The Shadowpact has been a bad idea from the start. I think they want to be the JLI, but come off like a bad interoffice joke. Like, they picked characters completely at random and hoped the punchlines would write themselves b/c they had a talking chimp. It’s really bad. Day of Vengeance was a pile of crap that wasted every second of potential it approached. The DoV Special not only wasted its potential, but pointed out what the previous piece of crap series SHOULD’VE been about. The Seven Sins. You pick seven mystic heroes and have them track down the Seven Sins, and release Shazam to go fight the Spectre. Ta-da. Instead DoV is about biting the shins of the Spectre and pointless schemes that mostly result in failure. DoV:S ties up the Seven Sins in a single issue, and uses really trite and worthless representations of the Sins. F’rex Envy vs. Doctor Occult. That’s a concept dripping with potential. Doctor Occult was the FIRST DC superhero. Before the Crimson Avenger, before Supes, before Bats, there was Dick Occult. But most people scratch their head and say “who?”. There’s a punchline that writes itself. Instead Envy turned him into a sniveling 12 year old girl who was mad that people were more popular than him, and better looking. Seriously. It was awful. JLA did a way better job by using Envy to turn Green Arrow against Batman. Now that’s funny. Lust is a hot girl, Sloth makes someone lie down. It’s just lame and uninspired, which describes all of Willingham’s work perfectly.
Shadowpact OYL is more of this near-miss BS. The first story involves them fighting their version of the Hellions. Which are just jerk versions of themselves. It was also really bad. I stopped buying. I can only ask that you do the same.
They should add a subtitle: “More Identity Problems Than Batman”. The first story was on drugs, and the second arc has merely been on different drugs. Supergirl OYL is in the bottled city of Kandor which may or may not be in a bottle at the time. Kara is there with Karen (Powergirl) as Flamebird and Nightwing, which is cute (and if you’re feeling nasty you can throw another Nightwing on the 101 Nightwings). There’s a cult to Kal-El, and apparently bad stuff is happening. It wasn’t written very well as far as clarity, so it’s never clear what the threat is. Kara is over-aggressive and violent, and Karen seems to be trying to mentor her back in line as they fight the nebulous no-goodniks of Kandor. All sorts of weird stuff is happening and in the end the Kal-El this cult is based on appears to be Ultraman (which is clever enough, b/c he’s a Kal-El too), and somehow Saturn Queen is involved. Which Saturn Queen? I don’t even know. In the end they just sort-of leave the situation behind, Karen yells at Kara and I have no idea what this resolved. Then Joe Kelly takes over, and he’s openly admitted he had no interest in carrying on previous storylines, and dropped them. So if any of that Kandor stuff mattered, it doesn’t anymore? I can’t blame him, but it seems irresponsible to not even mention it.
Kelly then takes Kara on a journey for identity, which is a classic theme, however introduces another five Karas in five issues. As that was apparently the design, it’s hard to hold it against anyone, but as the number of Supergirls increases it doesn’t settle anything either. Bad timing, Joe. It’s getting around to telling her origin again, and it’s some weird shit. Weird shit but it pays-off Joe’s weirdness so far. We’ll see. This book needs some new art, and to find an identity -and fast- b/c it seems unanimous that no one likes Supergirl (I’m sure we’ll be told we demanded it, but I don’t remember doing that). Right now Linda Danvers is more popular, but DC is dedicated to hating her. There’s some team shifting going on, and we can only hope the book looks upward and onward. It’s not as bad as people say, but it’s not as good as people want.
Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes
This was cute. Now, knock it off. Hey, another Supergirl! This one’s in the future! Why is she in the future? We have no idea. She’s not even a part of the major plot anymore, she’s just hanging out in the future. It started as cute, it’s a nod to some classics, but now it’s just falling over itself. Apparently when the team shifts from Waid and Kitson, SG will leave and maybe this book can get itself back on track. LoSH will have some weirdness in its future since JSA is introducing old versions of Legionairres that haven’t existed for awhile, and are not congruent with the current Legion book. I’m rather enjoying the Legion, but it’s not the best book. You have to be patient with it, b/c it leaves a lot between the margins and gutters to just be assumed by age-old Legion fans (which I’m not). We’ll see if the new team can open this book to some wider appeal. As it stands, it takes forever to tell a story and you still feel like you’re missing pages. I do recommend it, but you might want to wait a month or two for the changing of the guard if you’re not already on board.
Kurt Busiek at his better! Not really his best, but it’s definitely better than that issue of Aquaman. It’s cute. It borrows heavily from “Whatever Happened to the Man Of Tomorrow”, but shit, that’s a great story, and Busiek finds a lot of love to wring from it. Pros: 1) It shows Clark as a hero even as Clark. Whatever, I’m a sucker for a farmboy with ethics of steel, shut up. Even without powers, Clark has something to offer. I dunno, that’s kind of nice. 2) He’s offered a Green Lantern ring, which he turns down (I have to believe this is a nod to a story that mentioned Clark Kent was almost picked as Green Lantern of Earth instead of Hal). 3) Busiek excels at heartwarming comic fun. Cons: 1) Another Supergirl is present at the beginning of this arc, but she disappears by the end, presumably to go be one of her other selves. 2) Lex Luthor hatches the stupidest of stupid super-mad-science schemes, which bears too close a resemblance to the movie Luthor and not the storied Luthor of comics history. 3) Hey, it’s Superman, guess how it ends? Yeah, Superman remembers he’s Superman and punches the badguy until he falls down! Yay! Mediocrity hath returned!
More proof that Geoff Johns is allowed to do whatever he wants. He invents, like, a million kid versions of every Justice League member ever. Then there’s some weird mystery that doesn’t really go anywhere. I guess it introduced some of the million kids he glommed into the DCU, but not really anyone significant, or cool. More wangst for wangst sake, which is apparently what Johns believes a teen book needs to be about. Mind you, he’s not entirely wrong, most successful teen books are filled with melodrama and strife, but it just never seems to let up in this book. I think I need to do a whole blog based on how this iteration of Teen Titans has thoroughly ruined each of these kid characters. Believe it or not, with an introduction like that, I’m not hating the Titans. It just makes me sad, and I miss Young Justice even more. In YJ there was a nice balance between wangst and good-natured fun. Here, there’s no balance at all. But, read some classic New Mutants, and this book doesn’t even hold a candle to the amount of self-loathing that dripped off every word back then, so I can’t just hate it out of hand. Still, if given an alternative, I’d probably take it. I wonder if anyone else is slated to write TT in the near future, b/c I’d like to see all my favorite characters doing something other than hating themselves --and each other-- again.
Oh, and here is where Johns fixes Batgirl, so that’s something. But we still have to slog through Slade as one-dimensional badguy, which is really disappointing. I wonder if it’s too late to get Wolfman to save this book too? Meh, I bitch, but I buy it. If I was that annoyed, I’d stop. That’s as strong a recommendation as I can give it.
Finally, a Year Without Wonder Woman I can feel. 4 issues in 10 months isn’t bad, right? Right? It starts off with Donna Troy as Wonder Woman. Which was super awesome for, like, five whole seconds. To be fair, Donna chumps Giganta and Cheetah with little ado, but then Dr. Psycho makes her fight herself unconscious and Donna mostly appears as a necklace for the remainder of the arc. My personal theory is that Wonder Woman should’ve been the Flash of this Crisis. Instead the Flash was the Flash of this Crisis… (sigh). Diana’s an Icon, but she’s not comparable to the other two as far as irreplaceability. We know this, b/c they’ve replaced her a bunch of times. Anyway, I think that would’ve been hot, the title of the arc was even “Who is Wonder Woman?” which is hilarious if you’re a Donna fan. Diana could be something else (Goddess, person, secret agent, mentor, I give a shit, anything) and another classic Teen Titan ascends. In 60-80 years ALL the founding fathers would be replaced at that rate!
Regardless, I like Diana, and the storyline wasn’t awful (except Donna as a necklace). Unfortunately the end of the story got snipped off, but I guess we’re to assume Diana wins that fight against Circe. A fill-in issue got the series back on a monthly schedule, and Jodi Piccault has taken over. Only the second woman to write Wonder Woman. You believe that shit? Anyway, only one issue is out so far, but it’s really pretty frickin’ awesome. Buy it! Buy it so they’ll let more women write Wonder Woman… or comics in general. *Edit: Since I’ve taken too long to finish and post this, a second JP issue has come out. It’s not as mind-bogglingly awesome as the first one, but I put that up to Jodi still learning how to write comics. Also, Gail Simone will be taking over Wonder Woman, and unfortunately leaving Birds of Prey. Still mo’ girls writing Wonder Woman is mo’ better.
Well, there it is. One Year Later, one year later (which Dan Didio totally ripped off from me in his column last week). All in all it’s been a finicky year in comics. Even still, I‘m impressed. I hated it less than I thought. Yeah, some parts were straight-ass, but we’ll just call them speedbumps and hope this road goes somewhere. I’m trying to get over my bipolar love-hate thing with comics, and this was a good exercise for it. There’s still a lot of room for improvement from DC, but they’ve just about got this comics thing licked. If only they could decide what we wanted a little faster, so they could hurry up and tell us, that’d be great.
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