Tom Bondurant, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Page 2 of 23

Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Robin Rises’ but ‘Zero’ soars

My hero

My hero

Wednesday was Batman Day, the official date for celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. It’s fine to have a Batman Day, I guess — I’ve been getting emails from online bookstores saying “Celebrate Batman Day with our sales!” so it’s coming across in practice like President’s Day — but Batman is so ubiquitous in pop culture that you might as well have a McDonald’s Day or a Coca-Cola Day. (In a perfect world there would be a Rockford Files Day.)

Anyway, appropriately enough, each of the two regular Bat-books DC published this week looked at one end of Batman’s timeline. Batman Vol. 2 #33 wrapped up “Zero Year,” the latest (and perhaps the most epic) version of the character’s origins; and Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #33 presented “Robin Rises, Part One,” the latest chapter in Damian Wayne’s posthumous saga. While the former ended impressively, the latter is off to a slow start.

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Grumpy Old Fan | In October, DC wants trinities of win

Two Guys, A Girl, And Apocalypse

Two Guys, A Girl, And Apocalypse

Some months the solicitations don’t inspire much in the way of analysis. The superhero serials just sort of chug along, and maybe there’ll be an unusual creative team or an idiosyncratic collection to enliven things. Not so with DC’s October solicitations, which include a number of new series, storylines, and creative changes.

This next bit will sound conspiratorial, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable supposition. I believe — or at least I would not be surprised to learn — that all these debuts and changes are starting in October because that will give them at least six issues to resolve themselves before the big springtime move to the West Coast. For example, six issues is pretty much the minimum for a collection, so if any of the new series just drop immediately into the sales cellar (I’m looking at you, Klarion; say hi to GI Zombie), DC can still have enough for a trade paperback. That’s not to say a reboot is inevitable next spring — notwithstanding one panel in Robin Rising that should jump-start such talk — but I could see a good bit of the superhero line taking a potential victory lap over the fall and winter.  (Apparently I am not alone in thinking this.)

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Changes to the Bat-books show DC stepping out of the man cave

batgirl

Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.

This week DC Comics announced a big change in Batgirl: namely, a new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Coming aboard with October’s Issue 35, they bring a nifty new look and setting. After three years of grim but determined storytelling from writer Gail Simone and various artists (most recently Fernando Pasarin), Barbara Gordon is heading into Gotham’s “hip border district” for graduate school, and she’s leaving all the bad times behind.

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Grayson’: A spy ring to what?

Another legacy: bad hair

Another legacy: bad hair

(Note: Post title is taken brazenly from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff on the serial The Phantom Creeps.)

When DC announced Grayson in April, I wrote about the dangers of separating Dickie G. first from his mentor, and then from his friends in the Titans. Because Grayson is predicated on removing Dick from the superhero realm entirely, I’ve been ambivalent (at best) about this book. Even after reading the first issue — which was a good introduction to the series, and which stood on its own nicely — I still have some concerns. Most of these come from a desire (perhaps unwarranted) to judge a series in a larger context. Therefore, today we’ll talk both about the debut issue of Grayson (written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, drawn by Mikel Janín, and colored by Jeromy Cox), and whether that sort of big-picture evaluation is fair to it.

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First let’s get some of the obligatory historical perspective out of the way. Dick Grayson has been around for almost 75 years, longer than just about all of DC’s A-listers, including The Flash, Hawkman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Moreover, Dick/Robin has been adapted for various non-comics venues for almost as long, starting with radio and movie serials in the 1940s and continuing right through to today’s Teen Titans Go! Many of these more recent adaptations either alluded to, or showed directly, Dick’s transition to the Nightwing identity; and collectively they speak to the general public’s awareness of the character and his particular dramatic functions.

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Grumpy Old Fan | How Wonder Woman’s past can help the Finches

To coin a phrase

To coin a phrase

After three years, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are wrapping up their Wonder Woman run. Starting with November’s Issue 36, the new creative team will be writer Meredith Finch and her husband, artist David Finch.

While it would be silly to pass judgment completely on the Finches four months before their debut, I have to say my initial reaction wasn’t entirely positive. Consider the creative teams on the four main books of Diana’s Trinitarian brothers. Although detoured by the “Doomed” crossover, Action Comics’ team of writer Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder has been well-received. Superman just kicked off the Geoff Johns/John Romita Jr. era. Detective Comics picked up Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato after their stylish success on The Flash; and Batman features the unstoppable Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. For that matter, Azzarello/Chiang was one of several distinct creative teams that debuted as part of the initial New 52 relaunch and set itself apart instantly from any DC house style. Besides Snyder/Capullo on Batman and Manapul/Buccellato on Flash, there were Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman on Animal Man, J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman on Batwoman, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino on I Vampire, Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen on OMAC, and Snyder and Yanick Paquette on Swamp Thing. Accordingly, Azzarello and Chiang have seemed right at home helming Wonder Woman.

By contrast, as a writing/drawing team the Finches are an unknown quantity. Meredith Finch has written a few one-shots; and since coming to DC from Marvel, David Finch’s projects have been plagued by delays.

Now, these may all turn out to be moot points. The Finches may have the perfect take on Wonder Woman. They are certainly very enthusiastic, even if he has been a bit tone-deaf. We won’t know for sure how their Wonder Woman will read until this fall — but I can still offer some historical perspective, and maybe a little advice.
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IDW’s ‘Wonder Woman’ collection reprints a Golden Age rarity

wonder woman_newspaper_ad_1943[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

For a character who had just debuted a couple of years earlier, the prospect of a Wonder Woman newspaper strip was a clear sign of the Amazing Amazon’s immense popularity. However, in the crowded, competitive field of newspaper comics — where the first Batman newspaper strip lasted only about three years, ironically because it was vying for space against the successful Superman strip — Wonder Woman couldn’t establish herself. Still, IDW has restored what history has all but forgotten, and this August the publisher will reprint the strip’s 19-month run.

I’ve seen a few weeks’ worth of these strips here and there over the years, and they’re a lot like the Golden Age comics. This is hardly surprising, since they were written by creator William Moulton Marston and drawn by original artist Harry G. Peter. However, the newspaper format apparently allowed Marston and Peter to open up their storytelling styles, allowing for a slightly different pace and a more long-form approach.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Johns, Romita take on Superman’s big blues

Expectations

Expectations

For their first issue of Superman, writer Geoff Johns, penciler John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson (with colorist Laura Martin and letterer Sal Cipriani) have served up an intriguing blend of action and introspection. There are the requisite nods to semi-obscure (Titano!) and really obscure (J. Wilbur Wolfingham?) Superman minutiae, and one subplot seems destined to undo a New 52 development. However, while Issue 32 of Superman Vol. 3 is concerned with managing the Man of Steel’s status quo, a good bit of it revolves around the new character(s) that will apparently drive this story arc.

Accordingly, the issue doesn’t feel quite so much like the start of a bold new era (although it could well be); instead, the new creative team uses the issue to ease into its story, such that the action serves the character work. Considering that almost half of the issue involves fight scenes, that seems like an odd observation, but it’s kind of an odd issue overall.

The question then becomes whether those characters — Superman included — are compelling enough to follow month in and month out. Last month, Johns told Comic Book Resources that readers should “[j]ust give us one issue and that’s all. I think we’ll earn your trust and your time and your investment in one issue because I really believe in this first issue and I really believe in what we’re doing.”

Whether Superman #32 meets that standard is therefore somewhat unclear. It lays out the characters and their concerns pretty broadly, and (somewhat like Johns’ and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman) it depends to a certain extent on answering reader frustrations. Still, on balance, it works. This is a very good issue of the New 52 Superman, with all that implies.

Read on for more, and as always …

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Ellison’s ‘City’ displays its original edge

startrek-tease

[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

I grew up with Star Trek in the lean times of the mid-1970s, between the end of the Animated Series and the premiere of The Motion Picture, when fandom had to sustain itself with zines, comics and the occasional prose novel. In that spirit, I defy any of my Trekkie/Trekker contemporaries to not be transported (pun intended) by the first-issue cover of IDW’s six-issue City On The Edge Of Forever adaptation. It’s a note-perfect pastiche of one of those old paperbacks, with a surrealist Enterprise projecting (through a woman’s eye) a lone Starfleet figure fleeing into the heart of a 20th Century metropolis. With everything framed against a clock face and a smattering of stylized stars, it suggests the disjointed isolation of the Original Series’ most revered episode.

Writers Scott and David Tipton and artist/colorist J.K. Woodward have likewise done their best to reproduce the feel of Harlan Ellison’s late-1960s teleplay — although not necessarily the feel of a first-season Trek installment. Since this was still fairly early in Star Trek‘s history, Ellison’s work wasn’t exactly compatible with the producers’ collective vision.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Deja vu for DC in September

"I wanted new Bill Watterson comics, but not like this!"

“I wanted new Bill Watterson comics, but not like this!”

Hey, remember in April, when the July solicitations also included all the September Futures End tie-ins? Well, guess what: The September solicits are out, and they’re pretty much all the same!

What’s more, “all the same” isn’t much of an exaggeration. The 41 New 52 titles that are getting Futures End one-off tie-ins bear the same prices, release dates and copy as they did in the July solicits. The September listings do add cover art and credits, which are important details; but they don’t change the gist or tone of the previewed plots. More on this later.

Otherwise, these solicits contain only a handful of additional main-line superhero titles. These include the second Multiversity issue (with the awesomely alliterative subtitle Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World), the final issue of Superman Unchained, four issues each of Futures End and Batman Eternal, and the first Teen Titans: Earth One hardcover.

Therefore, this month’s solicitation roundup might get a little weird.
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‘Batgirl’ #32 is the best kind of fan service

batgirl-900

[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

She was not Birds Of Prey‘s first writer, and probably won’t be its last, but Gail Simone has become associated pretty closely with the character of Barbara Gordon, and specifically Barbara’s identity as the omniscient info-broker Oracle. One might even say that only Simone could have returned Babs to her original role as Batgirl, as part of the New 52 relaunch. Since then, Simone has quietly made Batgirl into one of the more engaging Bat-books, spending as much time on her relationships as on her crimefighting.

This week’s issue (penciled by Fernando Pasarin, inked by Jonathan Glapion, colored by Blond) is a fine example. All those relationships collide when hardcore vigilante Knightfall decides she doesn’t like “common criminal scum” (and Babs’ boyfriend) Ricky Gutierrez suing ex-Commissioner Gordon. Meanwhile, Babs herself gets recruited by an old college roommate (now part of a super-secret spy outfit, of course) that wants to bring Knightfall down. All this while Batgirl has to deal with the current Batman Eternal status quo, in which snotty cops can (and do) refuse to arrest the Bat-crew’s various foes.

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Forever People’ gets a Big Bear hug

Not cool, man

Not cool, man

As with many Jack Kirby creations, we could spend a long time on the Forever People. I’m not a Kirby scholar, although naturally I’ve tried to learn more about what the King wanted his characters to be. In that respect, the end of the original Forever People series was somewhat ironic: Kirby closed out Forever People Vol. 1 #11 (October-November 1972) with the group stranded on the distant planet Adon, far away both from Earth and from the ongoing conflict between New Genesis and Apokolips. Indeed, “stranded on Adon” was still their status when the big Who’s Who encyclopedia came out in 1985-86.

Not surprisingly, since then DC has revived the Peeps (if I may call them that) a handful of times. The latest is this week’s Infinity Man and the Forever People, which switches things up a little by giving top billing to the mysterious being who can trade places with his young allies. When DC announced that Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen were writing and drawing, I was skeptical, but willing to give it a chance.

In fact, it’s not a bad first issue. It introduces most of the cast (except for one headliner), it lays out a good bit of the New 52’s New Genesis setup, and while it occasionally seems a bit “edgy for its own sake,” generally it keeps to the spirit of the original. One character even says “without [Kirby], none of this would be possible.” That’s pretty on the nose, but appreciated.

Regardless, the new Forever People has a lot to live up to.
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‘Tiny’ Titans, ‘Mini’ Series — Aw Yeah!

TINY-RETURN-tease

It’s a good time to be Art Baltazar and Franco. The success of the original Tiny Titans series (2008-12) earned them an Eisner Award, and led to the tiny-fication of features as diverse as Hellboy, Battlestar Galactica and Captain Action. Back at DC, their follow-up Superman Family Adventures only lasted 12 issues, and their New 52 Green Team series (drawn by Ig Guara and aimed at the regular superhero audience) went for only eight. In that regard, wile a six-issue miniseries might seem like an even shorter commitment, I like to think it’s another chance for the duo to show their stuff.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Structure, tradition, and Luthor’s League

"Why is the most brilliantly diabolical leader of our time surrounding himself with total nincompoops?"

Why is the most brilliantly diabolical leader of our time surrounding himself with total nincompoops?

As discussed here last week, the final page of Forever Evil promised a particular kind of big event as its follow-up. However, the just-concluded miniseries also inflicted more immediate consequences on the Justice League; it’s those I’ll be talking about today.

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I previously mentioned that the New-52 relaunch/reboot didn’t really add a new “structural” feature to the superhero line, in the way that “Flash of Two Worlds” established the Multiverse or Crisis on Infinite Earths facilitated all those legacy heroes. At the time I didn’t really mention the addition (or re-integration) of the WildStorm and Vertigo characters, but I still don’t think that’s as big a deal as the Multiverse or the generational timeline. The difference is that Flashpoint brought in characters mostly to the present-day DC Universe, whereas COIE and (to a lesser extent) the original Multiverse both dealt regularly with larger spans of time. In the latter cases, the superheroes first emerged in the runup to World War II, and those adventures ended up informing their modern-day counterparts. While the New 52 had books like Demon Knights and All Star Western that were set even further in the past, they could only influence the main superhero line obliquely.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Let’s do the time warp again

It's the pelvic thrust that really drives 'em insane

Put your hands on your hips

A big part of me still thinks Forever Evil would have worked a lot better as one of those late-1990s done-in-five-weeks events. I did enjoy the final issue, but it was because lots of things actually happened, and it made me wonder why they couldn’t have occurred a bit more quickly.

Still, the last-page reveal warmed my withered nerd heart. It’s the sort of thing that cries out for a boatload of analysis based on a set of comics published when I was in high school. Could be a stretch, but I’ll risk it.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, therefore, for Forever Evil #7 and probably some other stories you have already read.

5

4

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Grumpy Old Fan | Summertime blues for DC in August

Happy trails

Happy trails

Considering that the July solicitations also previewed September’s Futures End tie-ins, and the final issue of Forever Evil arrives this week after being scheduled originally for March, the August listings feel like just one more ingredient in a jumbled publishing stew. When it’s all done, maybe we’ll see that it’s all worked together. Now, though, we might have to wait until the October solicits for a clearer picture of where DC’s superhero line is going.

EARTH DAZE

In the wake of the New 52’s various revisions, the Grant Morrison-written The Multiversity miniseries seems like an artifact — if not a relic — from the pre-relaunch days. Like the Morrison-written Batman Incorporated, it was originally conceived in that environment, when legacy characters abounded and beloved Silver Age elements were reemerging. Of course, with Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest, Forever Evil and Futures End, parallel worlds have hardly been absent from the New 52; so perhaps The Multiversity is meant to expand that storytelling device even further. I get the feeling that many things are about to change (again) for DC’s shared superhero line, and if some Morrison-infused characters are going to be part of that, I hope they stick around for a while.

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