INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (which hit comics shops in the first week of June 1985) screamed, “This is it! Double-sized SHOCKER!” However, the ending had been spoiled about two months before, when DC Comics revealed this was when Supergirl would die. (The April 10, 1985, edition of USA Today also revealed the fates of the Earth-Two Superman and Lois Lane, seven months early.)
Usually I try to be somewhat coy about Crisis’ plot twists, as if I were coming to it for the first time. With this, however, there’s little use. By now everyone and their super-cat knows Supergirl dies in Crisis, and it was pretty much the same 30 years ago.
Therefore, the question is how well does Crisis’ brain trust sell Supergirl’s death? It’s harder than you might think. Issue 7 is certainly one of the maxiseries’ best single installments (and that’s not a backhanded compliment); but the fact is that Supergirl not only dies to save Superman, she tells him how great he is with her last breaths. It doesn’t get much more meta than that.
Time once again to revisit some thoughts about the year just ended, and offer some thoughts on the year to come.
First, let’s see how I did with 2013:
1. Man of Steel. Last year I asked “a) how well will it do with critics and moviegoers; and b) yes, of course, will it help set up Justice League?” It got a 55 percent (i.e., Rotten) ranking from Rotten Tomatoes (although 76 percent of RT visitors who cared to vote said they liked it). Financially, Box Office Mojo called it a “toss-up,” putting it in the same category as Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Wolverine, The Hangover Part III, Pacific Rim and, uh, The Smurfs 2. I liked it well enough — I seem to like a lot of things “well enough” — but perhaps Super-fan Jerry Seinfeld’s musings about missed opportunities speak best to the film’s reception. MOS itself didn’t help set up a Justice League movie, at least not as expressly as, say, Nick Fury talking about the Avengers; but I think it’s safe to say that the sequel will go a long way in that regard.
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Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
Well done, DC: For the second time, I’m suckered in by your wave of new launches. This week, if I had $15, I’d drop a chunk of that on Dial H #1, Earth-2 #1 and Worlds’ Finest #1 (All DC, Dial H and Worlds’ Finest both $2.99, Earth-2 $3.99). What can I say? I really love the DC Multiverse as a concept, and I’m curious to see what the new Dial H is like.
If I had $30, I’d add some more new launches in there: Jim McCann and Rodin Esquejo’s Mind The Gap looks like a lot of fun (Image, $2.99), as does the first issue of New Mutants/Journey Into Mystery crossover Exiled #1 (Marvel, $2.99). On the recommendation of many, I’m also going to grab The Spider #1 (Dynamite, $3.99) to try out David Liss’ writing; I had a lot of people say good things about his Black Panther, so I’m looking forward to this new book.
Should I feel the urge to splurge, DC have again won the day: Spirit World HC (DC, $39.99)? Genre stories by Jack Kirby from my favorite period of his work that I’ve never seen before, including some that have never been reprinted before? Seriously, there’s no way I couldn’t want this book.
Regular readers of Talking Comics with Tim, before you ask yourself “Chris Roberson, didn’t you just interview him last month?” Yes and no. This interview focuses solely on Roberson’s plans for the new BOOM! Studios series, Elric: The Balance Lost, which will be previewed for readers this Saturday, May 7, via the company’s Free Comic Book Day offering. As noted by BOOM! Studios: “For 40 years, the exploits of Elric have thrilled comic book fandom, beginning with his introduction to the world of comics in Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian #15 in 1972. Now, Michael Moorcock, the godfather of the Multiverse concept, brings one of the most critically acclaimed and recognizable figures in the history of fantasy fiction back to sequential art! This Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) edition heralds the new ongoing Elric series featuring a crisis across multiple worlds that will involve Moorcock’s other famous fantasy franchise characters: Corum of the Scarlet Robe and Dorian Hawkmoon. Meet the Pale Prince in an epic that could only be called The Balance Lost! And make sure you don’t miss the new ongoing series this summer!” Thanks to BOOM! Studios’ Chip Mosher and Ivan Salazar for helping arrange this email interview, and (of course) thanks to Roberson for indulging another round of questions. Once you’ve read the interview, please be sure to check out CBR’s preview of the FCBD offering. If you find yourself in the Austin area this Saturday, be sure to catch Roberson at Austin Books from 10AM to 5PM.
Tim O’Shea: Ian Brill recently wrote of the Free Comic Book Day Elric issue, “Whether you’re new to the Elric mythos or a longtime fan you will dig it.” A) very brave of Mr. Brill to use a 1970s term like “dig” (I kid) and B) What is the key to writing a story that can equally appeal to new readers and longtime readers?
Chris Roberson: Well, to be fair, he could have used “grok” in the place of “dig,” which might have been a LITTLE braver.
But really, the trick is to give just enough information about the characters and the concepts to get new readers up to speed, without boring all of the longtime readers with stuff they already know. Based on my own experiences coming into long-running comic, TV, and novel series when I was younger, I don’t think new readers need to know EVERYTHING. They just need to know the basics, enough to understand who the characters are in general terms and what the basic conflict is. Reading to find out more is one of the things that keeps it interesting!
The more I thought about it, the more pleased I was that DC will be publishing an ongoing Batman Beyond book. Sure, the series ended over eight years ago; and sure, the episode of “Justice League Unlimited” which served as an epilogue (helpfully called “Epilogue”) is also fading into the mists of history.
To me, though, a new commitment to Terry McGinniss’ alternate future signals — whether DC realizes it or not — a renewed commitment to the Multiverse. Remember, the “Beyond” future (or something remarkably similar) was officially made part of the post-52 Multiverse as Earth-12, and barring a radical departure from DC, Earth-12 is where I expect Terry’s adventures to remain. Put simply, the BB mythology is based on the continuity of DC’s various animated series, from “Batman” through “Justice League Unlimited”; and while that continuity isn’t radically different from the comics’, it’s different enough. Bruce Wayne’s caped career ends rather ignominiously, for one thing. (Also, no Jason Todd; maybe no Golden Age superheroes; and the histories of the Flash, Earth’s Green Lanterns, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, and Wonder Woman each diverge in significant ways.) Besides, if DC really wants to drop hints about how its modern-day characters ended up, it can always use the farther future of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Although I wrote quite a lot over the past year about DC’s weekly series Trinity, I kept coming up with questions that went outside the scope of my weekly notes. Fortunately, writer Kurt Busiek was nice enough to participate in the following e-mail interview, conducted after Trinity concluded (and after he returned from a well- deserved vacation).
We discussed the nuts and bolts of producing Trinity, its connections to a couple of Busiek’s other DC projects, a few nitpicky items, and what the year-long series leaves behind.
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