Continuing the theme of the previous post, Great Pacific writer Joe Harris pulls back on the curtain to reveal what might have been had DC Comics not canceled The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men earlier this year.
On his blog, Harris, who came on board the series as co-writer with Issue 7, touches upon some of his ideas that never made their way into the book — “Things got changed around a bit, and I had to do a lot of rewriting to fit shifting plans, sudden crossovers, and other changes made on high, so much of this stuff never saw the light of day” — before breaking out something truly impressive: the “mindmap.”
You can check it out for yourself at the link, but it’s effectively a flow chart that lays out his vision for “Firestorm Year Two & Beyond,” with color-coded plot threads. I’m a habitual list- and chart-maker, so I was instantly drawn in by Harris’ dedication to planning and detail.
However, the writer notes, “Honestly, this map, while big, is conservative for me. You should see the master sheet I keep together for X-Files ideas!”
As with Cullen Bunn’s exploration of the development of The Fearless Defenders, Harris’ post and accompanying chart makes for interesting reading for fans and process junkies alike.
With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971′s Issue 206 through October 1985′s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978′s Issue 151 through October 1986′s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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Occasionally I talk about how perfunctory the monthly solicitation ritual can be … but not so for April!
On the same day the solicitations were released, Comic Book Resources launched its new “B&B” column, featuring editors Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase, and chock-full o’ factoids about various books. Moreover, the solicits were themselves packed with new story arcs, new creative teams, and an even more heightened feeling of coyness.
A big part of this coyness comes from April’s cover gimmick. Actually, we readers can only see half of the gimmick — because while every New 52 book will sport a fold-out cover, the solicits only show the left side. (Makes me wish there were a retailers-only edition of Previews, as this is just the kind of thing which surely irritates them.) To add to the anticipation, every New 52 solicitation ends with a question. Accordingly, this month more than usual, the solicits are structured precisely to set up dire consequences and leave them unresolved. Suspenseful!
Ah, but that sort of thing only encourages me. Let’s dive in, shall we?
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Travis Clevinger, the lead character in Dan Jolley’s Bloodhound, is a convicted murderer with no superpowers who is released from prison at the request of the FBI so he can track down a serial killer. First published in 2004 by DC Comics, the DC Universe series, which featured art by Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs, received good reviews but never quite found its audience and was never collected. That is, until now.
Bloodhound has found a new home at Dark Horse, which in June will publish issues 1-4 and 6-10 as a collected edition, titled Bloodhound, Vol. 1: Brass Knuckle Psychology, with 198 pages of comics plus an introduction by Kurt Busiek, an afterword by Ivan Cohen, and standalone art by Jamal Igle, Mike Norton, Tim Seeley and others. Where is Issue 5? Read our exclusive interview with Jolley to find out, and to get the backstory on Bloodhound.
Robot 6: Since it’s been a while, can you refresh us about what Bloodhound is about?
Dan Jolley: Bloodhound is about Travis “Clev” Clevenger, a huge, brutal, ex-Atlanta police detective who specializes in tracking down superhuman criminals. Clev had the city’s best record for finding and dealing with superhumans, thanks to a knack for understanding their thought processes. Unfortunately, he had also been having an on-again-off-again affair with his partner Vince’s wife, Trish, for a number of years, and when Vince found out, he attacked Clev with a crowbar. Clev killed Vince and got sentenced to prison.
Here in Memphis this week, September finally turned the corner into fall. High temperatures are mostly in the 70s, the air is getting crisper, and the sky is turning a paler blue. Unlike July or August, when October and November seem far in the future, a nice September makes December that much easier to imagine.
In September you start to settle into the routine which will take you through the winter — and that’s apparently true as well for the New 52 superhero books. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Ivan Reis and Joe Prado head to Justice League with December’s Issue 15, and I for one am happy. Although I like Jim Lee fine, I think Reis is better-suited to big, multiple-character action. It’s hard for me to explain the distinction, so consider this: How would “Sinestro Corps” or Blackest Night have looked if Lee had drawn them? Reis manages crowds quite well, and Justice League should be crowded.
Also, while I’ve been rather down on Justice League of late, the expanded roster (teased over a year ago) and the Atlantis-centered storyline make me optimistic that the book is … well, doing what I’d like it to do, which is being a showcase for, and gateway to, the larger superhero universe. So, well done, solicitation!
College basketball season starts back up in November, so that makes thinking about bracketology only a little less premature. Looking at the various discrete (and, occasionally, indirect) crossovers happening throughout November’s New 52 solicitations, I couldn’t help but picture the field of 68, with each individual game a step along the way to … “Trinity War,” I guess …?
Green Lantern’s “Rise of the Third Army” occupies the four GL titles, of course, but it also brings in Justice League, where the solicit for issue #14 wonders where Hal is. (After reading this week’s GL #12, I have a better idea about that.) Likewise, GL #14 guest-stars the League.
From the solicits I wonder if “ROT3A” takes place mainly in GL (with a little JL on the side). “Night of the Owls” was advertised that way (you only need to read Batman, because the other Bat-books dealt with ancillary stories) and it kind-of fits with the way the New-52 books have hyped their creative teams. Johns, Scott Snyder, and Jeff Lemire are responsible for a total of seven books (GL, JL, Aquaman, Batman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, JL Dark), and each writer has at least one book in some sort of crossover this month.
This post is about world-building. Ideally (and at the risk of being too cute), world-building would be what you made of it. The notion of a shared superhero universe implies a certain level of consistency, which at best offers a rich, textured backdrop and at worst becomes a tangled thicket of details. Naturally, each reader’s level of involvement will vary, and these days readers have quite a few options. Today I’m trying to sketch a general picture of how those options affect the stories themselves, and vice versa.
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Over the years — over the decades, really — it has been suggested that I read too many comic books. These concerns are not insignificant, and over the decades I have tried to deal with them appropriately.
However, while talking about DC’s Big Events with a friend on the way to the movies, I got a new perspective on the way these stories are received. Basically, my friend had seen Identity Crisis on a list of all-time worst comics and wanted my thoughts, because he had enjoyed it. Similarly, he liked Blackest Night not so much for the nonstop carnage, but for the sense that there were consequences.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Tim Seeley, whose work you may know from Hack/Slash, Bloodstrike, Witchblade, Colt Noble, the upcoming Ex Sanguine and Revival, and much more.
To see what Tim has been reading lately, click below.
Don’t ask me how I remember this, but it was just about twenty years ago that the first previews of Dan Jurgens’ Justice League began appearing. After five years, the “bwah-ha-ha” era was winding down, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were leaving Justice League America. Giffen was also stepping away from plots and breakdowns for Justice League Europe, with JLE’s scripter Gerard Jones taking over as the book’s only writer; and Brian Augustyn replaced Andy Helfer as both books’ editor.
With a number of the New 52 titles changing creative teams before they’re even a year old, it’s too early to start talking about any long-lived, let alone definitive, runs on a particular book. Still, DC clearly hopes these books will be around for a while, even without the folks who launched ‘em. It got me thinking about past changes of the guard, and how they have followed some well-established interpretations.
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At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.
But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!
TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND
The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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So here we are, the last week of the New 52 rollout, and I must say it’s been a fascinating — sometimes exhausting — ride. It’ll be good to get back to more normal posting next week, but I have enjoyed these marathon stream-of-consciousness reviews. Although DC has said over and over that these books are all part of the same revised universe, there are so many different styles and approaches on display (The early ‘90s! The mid- to late ‘90s!) that the line seems a lot more heterogeneous than it did five weeks ago.
Moreover, the realization that these books are the new status quo is only now starting to sink in. Overall it’s a good feeling, but bittersweet too. After all, I had 25 years to get used to the last line-wide revampings.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, as always.
Before the New 52 created the need for an all-new Firestorm, Atomic Robo-writer Brian Clevinger was going to pick up the character where Brightest Day had left him. At the Atomic Robo blog, Clevinger talks about being approached by DC and working with them to come up with an initial six-issue story outline. He extensively covers not only his approach to the character, but an issue-by-issue look at the outline.
I don’t mention this in a “Boo Hoo! Why couldn’t we have had this?!” kind of way. In fact. Clevinger expresses nothing but well-wishes for Firestorm’s new creative team of Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar. But it is a fascinating look at the creative process and a fun peek at what might have been.
[Ronnie and Jason] are two guys who share something incredible. Something that can help to make the world a better place. But it’s something that would never exist without both of them. And they don’t necessarily agree on how to use it. They didn’t grow up together, they didn’t come into this as friends, it was pure random chance that it takes these two guys to make something amazing happen. I mean, maybe this is just me turning every conversation into something about Robo, but this sounds a lot like Scott Wegener, me, and Atomic Robo.
(Image via It’s a Dan’s World)
The artists behind this September’s “New 52″ have taken to Twitter, thanks once again to David Macho, revealing a whole lot of art from the new books that are due next month. There are a couple of hash tags to follow over on Twitter … #52splash will show you pages of new stuff from Greg Capullo (above), Scott McDaniel and many others. And as Kiel noted last week, #thenewvillains hash tag that kicked off last week slowed down after last week’s push, but a few new posts have popped up today.
And speaking of villains, I don’t think anyone has shared artwork yet for the villain of the new Justice League title — who it turns out is one of DC’s biggest and baddest, Darkseid.
Check out more artwork after the jump, and watch the hash tags for more!
Welcome to Shelf Porn! It’s been awhile since we’ve posted this feature and we’re back with quite the collection today, as David Dougherty, a lawyer from Florida, shares his nicely displayed collection of statues and original art.
If you’d like to see your collection featured here, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And now let’s hear from David …
I talk about Crisis On Infinite Earths a lot in this space, and justifiably so, given its place in DC history. However, I’ve never been entirely comfortable with its lead villain, and it starts with his name: The Anti-Monitor.
Now, I know he calls himself simply “The Monitor,” and I know (thanks to various recent DC events) that he’s actually the Monitor assigned to the Anti-Matter Universe. Still, he’s best known with the prefix — and again, the prefix is where the trouble begins.
See, Anti-M (so nicknamed by R.A. Jones, critic for the classic fanzine Amazing Heroes) isn’t the only villain defined as the evil counterpart of a familiar superhero. There’s the Reverse-Flash (and his Golden Age predecessor, the Rival), the Cyborg Superman, the Composite Superman, the Sinestro Corps, Black Adam, and probably some others buried deep in my Who’s Whos. Heck, I can think of three “anti-Batmen” right off: Cat-Man, the Wrath (parents fatally shot by Jim Gordon on the same night the Waynes were killed), and Prometheus (psychopathic-criminal parents also shot by cops).
Anyway, those villains all have the advantage of well-known opponents. The Anti-Monitor is the evil answer to … a guy DC readers barely knew.