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Grumpy Old Fan | Sidekicks, icons and DC public relations

And now I am hungry for waffles. Mmmm ... waffles ...

A brief indulgence before we get started: July 14 marked eight years since I started blogging about comics on my own little website, the now-dormant Comics Ate My Brain. Since one of my first posts was called “Robin Problems,” it’s a happy coincidence that this week we return to the original superhero-sidekick identity.

Although I’m not always happy with DC Comics as a company, I have a lot of empathy for the people who work on superhero comics, especially those who populate convention panels. Regardless of how we think they’re doing their jobs, those are still their jobs, and I wouldn’t want to go to work every morning facing a steady torrent of criticism from my customers. (We lawyers get more than enough workplace second-guessing as it is.) It also can’t be easy traveling around having to face one’s critics in person.

That said, if the alternative-fuels industry could harness avoidable fan outrage, DC Comics would be the new OPEC. Once again demonstrating a knack for how not to behave, its panelists practically laughed off legitimate questions about switching out fan-favorite Bat-protege Stephanie Brown for the “more iconic” Barbara Gordon.

After those original accounts appeared online (on Friday the 13th, no less), more details emerged to help explain just who did what. It’s still a situation where DC higher-ups asked to remove Stephanie (which, it can’t be said enough, is really asking for trouble); but apparently the series’ writer got to choose her replacement. Don’t worry, we’ll get into all the nuances.

Onward!

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Grumpy Old Fan | My hero Zero: DC’s September solicits

The Lana/Lois team-up YOU demanded!

DC Comics in September brings together two gimmicks. This being corporate-run superhero comics, naturally these two things have been tried before. September’s unified cover themes remind me of January 2009′s “Faces of Evil” (not particularly uplifting) and January 2011′s “Salute to White Space.”  The new “Zero Month” recalls August 1994, when every main-line DC superhero title got an Issue #0 in the wake of July’s weekly, timeline-tweaking Zero Hour miniseries. Just over four years later, in September 1998, the weekly DC One Million miniseries launched all the superhero books into the 853rd Century with #1,000,000 issues.

Personally, I’m looking forward to September 2013′s Roman Numeral Month, September 2014′s Hexadecimal Month, and September 2015′s Binary Month (can’t wait for Justice League #100100!).
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Mimoco unveils DC Universe, Dark Knight Rises MIMOBOT series

Mimoco has introduced adorable MIMOBOT designer USB flash drives featuring Superman, The Flash, and Batman and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. They join the previously released Batman and Green Lantern series. However, Bane is a limited-edition Comic-Con exclusive, meaning you’ll have to trek to San Diego, or have a friend pick one up for you (or, y’know, pay a minor fortune on eBay).

Mimico is counting down to Comic-Con by revealing a new exclusive or premiere each Tuesday at midnight until the convention begins. These DC Comics drives are only the first, so there are four more sets to go. Check out the individual drives below, along with a MIMOBOT Dark Knight Rises teaser.

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Quote of the day | ‘Don’t mess with my cake’

“The real answer to questions like, ‘Why doesn’t the Flash clean up Gotham City, too?’ is ‘It would make Batman’s cake lousy. People read Batman because they like crimefighter stuff where Batman’s cool, and don’t really want to see Superman or the Flash or Green Lantern mess with that particular cake.’ On the other hand, people who like stories where Batman and Superman and Green Lantern work together have the JLA cake, and some people like both kinds of cake.

But if you start to tie it together with logic foremost in your plans rather than entertainment, then you need to explain why Superman doesn’t help all the other heroes almost all the time, and why aren’t the crimefighters turned into SF-type heroes to make them more effective, and you end up with everything being JLA cake, and no solo Batman cake left. Or you come to the conclusion that it doesn’t work, so Batman shouldn’t be in the JLA, which maybe preserves the Batman cake, but it messes up the JLA cake.

So in the end, the answer to all of these questions is: Don’t mess with my cake.”

Kurt Busiek, using a cake/frosting metaphor to point out how logic should never trump fun in shared-universe superhero comics. He’s right of course, and that he even has to point this out goes to show how grown-ups ruin everything.

(via The Comics Reporter)

Grumpy Old Fan | Who won the ‘80s?

Where the over-people gather to watch big-screen botanical throwdowns

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether we could trace the entire sidekick-derived wing of DC’s superhero-comics history back to Bill Finger. Today I’m less interested in revisiting that question — although I will say Robin the Boy Wonder also owes a good bit to Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane — than using it as an example.

Specifically, this week’s question has nagged me for several years (going back to my TrekBBS days, even), and it is this: as between Alan Moore and the duo of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, who has been a bigger influence on DC’s superhero books?

As the post title suggests, we might reframe this as “who won the ‘80s,” since all three men came to prominence at DC in that decade. Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans kicked off with a 16-page story in DC Comics Presents #26 (cover-dated October 1980), with the series’ first issue following the next month. Moore’s run on (Saga of the) Swamp Thing started with January 1984′s issue #20, although the real meat of his work started with the seminal issue #21. Wolfman and Pérez’s Titans collaboration lasted a little over four years, through February 1985′s Tales of the Teen Titans #50 and New Teen Titans vol. 2 #5. Moore wrote Swamp Thing through September 1987′s #64, and along the way found time in 1986-87 for a little-remembered twelve-issue series called Watchmen. After their final Titans issues, Wolfman and Pérez also produced a 12-issue niche-appeal series of their own, 1984-85′s Crisis On Infinite Earths.* The trio even had some common denominators: Len Wein edited both Titans and Watchmen (and Barbara Randall eventually succeeded him on both), and Gar Logan’s adopted dad Steve Dayton was friends with John Constantine.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Warming up to DC’s June solicits

No means no, Superman

It may sound snobbish to say that there’s not much noteworthy in a month which features the first round of Watchmen spinoffs, but the original announcement garnered such intense reactions that these solicits are rather anticlimactic.

Still, there’s plenty to discuss in the June solicitations, including a new American Vampire miniseries, an old Wonder Woman arc, linking the various Leagues, and lamenting some lost Lantern history. Absent any additional alliteration, away we go!

SEEN IT

Most of Before Watchmen (everything except the Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias books) is scheduled for June. Not much more to say, really. If you’re not on board now, will these solicits sway you?
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Grumpy Old Fan | Multiverses and Marvels

All-Star Squadron #36, one of many issues Roy Thomas was destined to write

This is going to be another “we liked it the old way” type of post. I take no particular pleasure in these, because there are only so many ways to rail against change, especially changes involving decades-old characters and concepts.

Nevertheless, the latest charges of Crimes Against Tradition are against the new Earth 2 and “Shazam!” features. The original Earth-Two came to represent generations of superheroes active since the late 1930s, but the current one is apparently “five years of supers, give or take”; and the new don’t-say-the-M-word “Shazam” is apparently also something called the Third Sinner. So yes, DC, I try to be open-minded, I will give these things reasonable chances to win me over, and no one has destroyed my treasured old comics — but wow, you don’t make it easy.

Therefore, today I want to look at why the old versions might still matter, but just as importantly why they still matter to fogeys like me.

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What Are You Reading? with Marc Singer

Action Comics #5

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest today is Marc Singer, author of the very excellent book, Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, which is an excellent, excellent book that you should read if you’re at all interested in Morrison and his work.

To find out what Singer and other members of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, simply click on the link below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | All Flash has to do is act naturally

"First Season Episode Guide" -- so (sniff) optimistic--!

The Dark Knight Rises is on its way. Man of Steel is filming. The costume from that David E. Kelley Wonder Woman show will finally get some air time. I wouldn’t even bet against Green Lantern 2.

So today, I’m here to talk about adapting The Flash.

Apparently a Flash movie has been in development for several years, at least since Green Lantern went into production (and from a few of the same folks). I don’t know the basics — which by now may well have changed — but I suspect many of us fans would start from the same points: which Flash, which Rogue(s), etc. After so many superhero-comic adaptations, we can derive certain formulae from the things.

However, to me The Flash is different.

The idea of super-speed is ideal for the comics medium, because time basically slows down for everyone but the speedster, and comics excel at playing with the reader’s perception of time. Ironically, though, in a moving-picture setting, the real effect of super-speed is trickier to pull off. Sometimes it works to show everyone else slowing down, as in The Matrix’s “bullet time,” the bionic running of The Six Million Dollar Man, or the tray-catching scene of the first Spider-Man. (Naturally, the last always seemed to be an homage to Barry Allen discovering his powers in Showcase #4.)

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Comics A.M. | Justice League #1 sells 360,000 copies in four months

Justice League #1

Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]

Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]

Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard tries to ‘reach out’; Image Expo adds creators

Wizard

Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]

Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]

Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]

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Grumpy Old Fan | A full bracket for DC’s March solicits

OMAC #7

Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52′s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.

Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Ahem.  Away we go…!

HISTORY LESSONS

One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)

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After the JSA/JLA Thanksgiving, it’s time to clean up

Kerry Callen posted this before Thanksgiving, but it seems especially appropriate now that the holiday is over. Ever wonder how super heroes handle clean-up chores after those big turkey dinners? Callen has the answer. Are Flash’s pals being unfair? Can he convince them that they are? Only one way to find out.

‘Heroes will rise’ in Diesel’s new DC Comics underwear

As someone who spent a significant portion of his childhood in superhero Underoos, I can appreciate the sentiment behind these new DC Comics-branded boxerbriefs from Diesel and Warner Bros. — even if I can’t envision myself, as an adult (lacking the body of an underwear model), wearing them. Or, y’know, shelling out $34 for the pleasure.

However, if you’re itching to sport the logos of Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and The Joker above your cotton- and elastane-clad buttcheeks — or to see someone else do the same — then these are for you.

There’s probably a “stocking stuffer” joke to be made — also, “The Fastest Man Alive” — but I’ll do my best to resist. Alas, the folks at Diesel apparently don’t have that level of restraint, as the (let’s hope intentionally) hilarious promo video for the underwear drops the phrases “heroes will rise” and “show ‘em what you’ve got.” You can check it out below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | We are family: DC solicits for February 2012

Because a Crisis On Infinite Earths homage would have been too predictable

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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