"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Fantagraphics’ Marketing Director Mike Baehr, who runs their indispensable company blog, Flog!, among other duties.
To see what Mike and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
When an image of the full, 15-member lineup of DC Comics’ relaunched Justice League leaked over the weekend, discussion immediately turned to the identity of two of the four female characters.
The figure on the left, between Atom and Firestorm, was quickly pegged as Element Woman, a member of the Secret Seven who debuted in Flashpoint #1. But the character opposite her hasn’t been so easy. Speculation soon settled on Zealot from the WildStorm universe, Black Canary, Power Girl — fan blog DC Women Kicking Ass has head shot comparisons — and even the monster-hunting Miranda Shrieve introduced in Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1.
All are seemingly good contenders — all blonde, all with something to contribute to the Justice League roster, and to the newly tweaked DC Universe continuity. Black Canary has a history with the League — she’s alternately a founding member or a later addition, depending on the reboot — while Power Girl served with Justice League Europe. Of course, if the Justice League is starting anew, then none of that much matters. Zealot would help to cement the mergers of the DC and WildStorm universes (Martian Manhunter is now part of Stormwatch), and Miranda, along with Element Woman, would help to untangle how, or if, the threads of Flashpoint tie into the New DCU.
There are solid cases for each of those characters, right? Even if none has the beauty mark that the mystery woman sports above her lip. Right? Well, no.
Overnight, Justice League writer Geoff Johns dropped a bombshell that destroyed all of those theories. “That is not a blonde,” he wrote on Twitter. “(No one’s guessed the characters correctly yet.)”
So back to the drawing board, fandom! Who’s a not-blonde, beauty-mark bearing, turtleneck-wearing superheroine that no one’s thought of yet?
One of the many questions surrounding DC Comics’ line-wide renumbering centered on the absence of Justice Society of America, a title that in recent years had undergone its own high-profile reboot and spawned two spinoff series. The Justice Society, with a sprawling membership that includes Golden Age characters (or their namesakes) like The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and Hourman, reached deep into DC, and comic-book, history, forming the very first team of superheroes.
But Justice Society wasn’t among the 52 books rolled out by the publisher last week. Neither, for that matter, was Power Girl, whose title character has been closely associated with the JSA since her debut in 1976. And the solicitation for Mister Terrific #1, featuring a new take on “the world’s third-smartest man” — and two-time chairman of the team — makes no mention of the group. Then came the unveiling on Friday of Action Comics #1 which, as Robot 6’s J.K. Parkin pointed out, refers to “a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.”
If all of that isn’t enough to signal the end, or non-existence, of the world’s first team of superheroes, official word came over the weekend from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who wrote on his Facebook page, “As for JSA, we have decided to rest this concept while we devote our attention on the launch of the three new Justice League series. As for other characters and series not part of the initial 52, there are plenty of stories to be told, and we’re just getting started.”
As with any demise in superhero comics, this one is probably only temporary (heck, the JSA itself has been put to “rest,” only to be resurrected, a handful of times over the past 60 years). However, when the publisher is pushing a “modern” and “contemporary” take on its superhero universe, grappling with graying characters so firmly rooted in World War II will undoubtedly prove problematic.
Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.
So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.
It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”
So let’s get to it ….
While it might not be much, Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day will bring our first real glimpse at the world of Flashpoint. I’ve been looking at the looming alternate-universe epic as little more than a fun way to spend the summer — which would be fine, by the way — but apparently that is just crazy talk. Everything will change, as it always does; as it did with Brightest Day and Blackest Night and Final Crisis, etc., etc.
Naturally, there are different degrees of “change,” from wholesale reorganization to continuity tweaks. 1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths gave DC carte blanche to rework characters from the ground up. 1994’s Zero Hour, 2005-06’s Infinite Crisis and 52, and 2008-09’s Final Crisis also allowed DC to tinker with the timeline, mostly on a small scale. More esoteric devices like Hypertime, Super-punches, and plot-specific time travel have produced and/or explained certain changes.
However, in practical terms, the post-COIE changes haven’t upset too many apple carts. Oh, Zero Hour tried to clean up Hawkman’s history, and it also facilitated a new Legion of Super-Heroes timeline, both of which were big deals. More recently, though, Infinite Crisis gave Clark Kent a “secret Superboy” career and restored certain aspects of Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s histories, but those developments stayed in the background. Accordingly, a change that doesn’t affect a title’s regular storytelling practice doesn’t seem like much of a change.
And therein lies the real puzzle of Flashpoint: what room is there, across DC’s superhero line, for the kind of change which excites more than it frustrates? Of the 55 DCU/superhero-line titles DC will publish in July (as the big event reaches its midpoint), 17 are part of Flashpoint, and many of the rest are dealing with their own ongoing arcs. Today we’ll look at who might be flexible, and speculate a little on what might happen.
Welcome once again to Shelf Porn, our weekly visit inside the walls of a fan’s collection. Today’s collection belongs to one Chaos McKenzie, who shows off his comics, trades, graphic novels, original art, action figures and stuffed animals. As you can see in the picture above, he’s agot a nice collection of Power Girl-related art and comics.
If you’d like to contribute to Shelf Porn, just send a write-up and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take it away, Chaos!
Following up on the announcement that Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner are leaving Power Girl after issue #12, DC’s the Source blog reveals who will be replacing them. Starting with issue #13, writer Judd Winick and artist Sami Basri will chronicle the adventures of Kara Zor-L.
“It is with GREAT fear and excitement that Sami and I leap into this gig,” Winick said. “Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner have bought an amazing, fresh, and inventive rebirth to this character. Our greatest challenge will be to remain faithful to what they’ve created and also take Power Girl to a new place. As far as the course that the story will take, I’ll be uncharacteristically forthcoming : The story is tied to JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST. Not CHAINED to it, but tied. Power Girl has a history with the JLI that will be explored. A lot.”
As previously reported, Winick is teaming with writer Keith Giffen on the 26-issue biweekly Justice League: Generation Lost mini-series.
Much of this Jimmy Palmiotti email interview happened right before Friday’s announcement that Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner are saying goodbye to Power Girl once they finish issue 12. I could have reworked many of the Power Girl questions, but I chose to keep the remainder of Power Girl questions intact, as there’s still a few issues of the run (the focus of the discussion) and Palmiotti (as he always does) gave some great answers. Any interview with Palmiotti has to include his and Gray’s continuing work on Jonah Hex, of course. Finally, Palmiotti often has some creator-owned work set to release, and this time around it’s his and Gray’s collaboration with artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo on Random Acts of Violence, a 72-page graphic novella (published by Image and set to be released on April 28, 2010). I always enjoy the chance to interview Jimmy, and this go around proved no different.
Tim O’Shea: Can you divulge some more details about Power Girl 12 — and from a writer’s standpoint, how enjoyable/bittersweet is it to get to this 12th (and final one for the team) issue, where you get to (as the solicits put it) “All the pieces of the puzzle come together…”? As a creative team did you accomplish a great deal of what you had wanted to do in the 12 issues?
Jimmy Palmiotti: We all knew that issue 12 was going to be Amanda’s last issue on the book for a while but we didn’t know just how much her work and Power Girl became one for us. As we got closer to the deadline to find another artist, Justin and I started really thinking about how it would be next to impossible to find a replacement and even if we did, how it would be difficult to write a book like this for someone else…so we just figured it was time to move on, be a real team and all of us leave the book for the next crew to take on. That said, we know who the new writer is, are excited about who it is and have fed them the scripts and even asked if there was anything we could do with the book to leave it in a place where they need it and so on. Fans of the title will be happy that the book does not skip a beat and will be pretty excited with what the title has in store. Leaving the book is a hard thing to do, especially since we gave it our heart and soul and Amanda , Paul and John put so much into each and every page … but at the same time we look back at the 12 issues and are really proud of the work we have done and how we built on to Power Girl’s legacy.
Let’s just say the last 3 issues are going to be remembered as the best in the run and we couldn’t be happier with all the support we have been given by our editors Brian and Mike and the rest of the D.C. crew. it was a dream gig on all levels. I don’t think I ever laughed as hard or had more fun on any title.
Last week Esther Inglis-Arkell over at the 4thletter called out a scene in the recent JSA: 80 Page Giant comic where Cyclone and Power Girl have a discussion about the latter’s costume … or, more specifically, the great big hole right in the middle of it.
“Are you kidding me? I’m getting an ‘I choose my choice’ speech from a fictional character?” Inglis-Arkell wrote. “Feminist fans are getting a slap because they won’t accept one bullshit excuse after another for why male heroes are mostly fully-clothed and female heroes mostly walk around in their underwear?”
You’d think that sort of attention might send the story’s writer, Jen Van Meter, running for cover, but instead she shows up in the 4thletter comments section to explain her intent when writing the story.
“A friend forwarded me links to your post and to a couple other blogs that have picked up on your comments, and I feel compelled to reply because you’re right — I failed in what I was trying to accomplish with the ‘Spin Cycle’ story, or, at the very least, I failed you and many of your respondents,” Van Meter posted.
Inglis-Arkell pulled the comment out into its own post, which I encourage you to read … it isn’t often you get to see a writer offer insight into a story where they “misstepped,” as Van Meter notes.
This week we’ve seen some interesting discussion stemming from a scene in the JSA: 80 Page Giant comic, in which Power Girl and Cyclone address Power Girl’s costume.
Esther Inglis-Arkell starts things off:
And I heard the justification about how Canary’s outfit was in tribute to her mother, even when that means she’s in panties and a jacket in the First Wave books. And I’ve heard the one about Poison Ivy being a plant and therefore unconcerned about human modesty. Oh, and I’ve heard the one about Supergirl being invulnerable and therefore not needing pants. There are a few about how Huntress wanted to show off the fact that she was shot, and she lived, and that’s why she fought in a bikini. And then there’s the one about Batman and Superman . . . oh. Wait. There aren’t that many excuses for how Batman and Superman dress because, golly, for some reason, the male heroes in this mostly male-controlled medium put their fucking clothes on when they’re going to fight someone.
Are you kidding me? I’m getting an ‘I choose my choice’ speech from a fictional character? Feminist fans are getting a slap because they won’t accept one bullshit excuse after another for why male heroes are mostly fully-clothed and female heroes mostly walk around in their underwear?