Hey, hey...it's new comic day!
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art and cover by TONY DANIEL
Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel re-team to tell the exciting 2-part, untold tale of Bruce Wayne and his adventures between BATMAN R.I.P. and FINAL CRISIS! What happened to Batman – and Dr. Hurt, for that matter – after the devastating events at the climax of R.I.P.? And what secrets within this story point toward THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE?
Ok, see, for me, R.I.P was not, in any way, a high point for Batman. I just don't think Grant Morrison has the temperament for the gritty, streets of the city stories that I prefer for a Bruce Wayne Batman. The Silver Age throwback stuff he's been doing in Batman and Robin, with the considerably lighter mood of Dick Grayson's Batman is wonderful. However, his pre-death of Bruce Wayne run was really, really flatline for me. The high concepts and vaguely goofy tone, well...it was like Roger Moore trying to work in a Sean Connery (or worse, a Daniel Craig) James Bond picture.
I know, I know the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams 70's work I admire so much had globe-trotting and introduced Bond villain-like characters such as Ra's Al Guhl, but Bruce Wayne is obsessed with Gotham, and that's where he operates best.
This, of course, has nothing to do with this story, but I really never cared for Dr. Hurt as a villain before, what's changed? Probably not enough.
Booster Gold #34
Written by KEITH GIFFEN & J.M. DEMATTEIS
Art by CHRIS BATISTA & RICH PEROTTA
Cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
Booster Gold travels into the past to right the wrongs of JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST. But when present-day Booster is mistaken for his past self, he lands in the middle of an old JLI mission with Blue Beetle and the man who killed him – Maxwell Lord!
God, I love this series right now. I had a friend ask me why I was so down on Justice League: Generation Lost, and the answer is simple. It's hawking the cast of the old Justice League International series, but is pretty much completely opposite in tone and style. JLI writers Giffen and DeMatteis are bringing that style and tone in Booster Gold, and that is what I'll be reading.
The Brave and The Bold #35
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ
Inspired as always by their idols in the Legion of Super-Heroes last issue, the Legion of Substitute Heroes has also traveled back in time to recruit new members. But where their counterparts reached out to the Doom Patrol, the Subs have managed to enlist The Inferior Five! It ain't a stretch to suggest this won't end well.
Legion of Substitute Heroes = FULL OF WIN!!
The Spirit #4
Written by DAVID HINE
Co-feature written by MARV WOLFMAN
Art by MORITAT
Co-feature art by PHIL WINSLADE
Cover by LADRÖNN
New series writer David Hine comes aboard for the first chapter of "Frostbite!" The ultimate high has arrived on the corners of Central City, and the ghouls who deal it aren't interested in cutting the all-controlling Octopus in on the action! It doesn't take long for hot blood to hit the icy city streets! And in the co-feature, THE SPIRIT: BLACK & WHITE, Marv Wolfman and Phil Winslade show us what happens in Central City when the lights go out – every last one of them! It's a citywide blackout in black and white!
A series that is becoming one of DC's more interesting reads. In the tradition of creator Will Eisner, it's definitely one of the most stylish looking series you'll find on the rack. I'm still really enjoying this new take on the pulp-ish title character, but any time you bring in a new writer, there's a chance for things not to click. However, the talent on this book seem to approach things with the idea of taking risks, and that's exciting, even if they don't always work.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #12
COVER BY: DAVID LAFUENTE
WRITER: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
PENCILS: DAVID LAFUENTE
INKS: DAVID LAFUENTE GARCIA
COLORED BY: JAYPO LLC
LETTERED BY: NEUROTIC CARTOONIST, INC
Guess what? That ain’t Peter Parker!! But it is Peter’s worst nightmare. Someone has taken Peter’s place in the world, his likeness, his everything, and he is—well—he is doing some damage! You won’t believe the mayhem that goes down in this issue! Join superstars BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (SIEGE, AVENGERS) and DAVID LAFUENTE (X-MEN, PATSY WALKER) as Peter battles the ultimate threat!
Are they trying to hide that it's an Ultimate version of The Chameleon? Because that seems pretty bluntly obvious to me.
Always a good read.
And, for this week, from the "maybe" pile:
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Art by EDDY BARROWS & J.P. MAYER
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
1:25 "DC 75th Anniversary" variant cover by JOHN CASSADAY
J. Michael Straczynski begins his highly anticipated run on SUPERMAN! After the devastating events of WAR OF THE SUPERMEN, how can Superman possibly continue his battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way? Find out here in "Grounded" part 1 and get in on the starting line of a modern-classic SUPERMAN story!
"Hot" writer comes on board to create a "classic" (or, sorry, "modern-classic") run on Superman...
I'm so conflicted about this. The story SEEMS like it could be interesting, with Kal-El literally walking across America to re-connect with the common people. Yet it starts with Superman feeling guilty because a woman berates him for letting her husband die of cancer? I can't help but feel like...It's Superman, by this point he would've come to terms with the idea that he can't save EVERYONE, and certainly not from a death by what amounts to natural causes.
So, yeah, I have doubts. I'll thumb through the book and make the call.
R.I.P. Harvey Pekar
In recent years, when we've lost various comic book creators, the word "giant" gets thrown around a lot. I usually don't make a big deal out of it, but most of the time these are excellent practitioners of standard superhero fare. Not trying to denigrate that, as, I'm sure it's obvious, I love superhero comics. Still, they rarely have a body of work that truly sets them apart form many, many others who have worked in the medium.
But Harvey Pekar was different...
The man who passed away early Monday morning in his Cleveland bedroom can truly be said to have expanded what could be explored or depicted in the realm of a comic book. Harvey Pekar was the sole writer of the series American Splendor since 1976.
Even for underground comics, American Splendor was different. It wasn't fiction, Pekar wrote short tales from his own life, and the lives of the "normal people" he worked and lived with every day. Harvey had no need for the fantastic, as he found a wealth of humanity and drama in his everyday world. Pekar's characters dealt with problems and challenges we all do, from buying a fresh loaf of bread to carrying a mattress back to an apartment, and he never allowed these tales to become anything more than what they were, snippits of normal life. He used the comics medium as a reporter, crafting almost a documentary of his Cleveland.
He, of course, didn't do it alone. Harvey could not draw. He engaged a string of extremely talented artists to craft the visuals. Underground comics legend R. Crumb drew the first issue. The talent that worked with him, and the breadth of styles on display, however, were staggering. Harvey, often a character of narrator of his tales, could appear as a rather handsome middle-aged guy to a flea-bitten slob.
The book gave Pekar some fame. He made several infamous appearances on David Letterman's show that are fondly remembered.
I'd like to say that I'd been a fan of Harvey's for years, but I can't. I'm a superhero kid, and my tastes have always leaned that way. I was aware of American Splendor, in a cursory way, as a fan of the medium, but never actually read the book until 2003. Shamefully, I came to it from the American Splendor movie directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar. It's an amazing movie, and one of the best, if not THE best comic book-inspired movie I have ever seen. (Giamatti is simply fantastic.)
After seeing the film, I made an effort to read more of Harvey's work. It's a step I have never regretted. Harvey's stories weren't standard storytelling, for sure. The point was bits of life, not smooth storytelling, and sometimes the story would end right as you were becoming engaged with it. Pekar didn't care about crafting a smooth story, he cared about truth. that's what he aimed for, and almost always hit his target.
I recommend any of his books, and certainly any of the American Splendor collections.
The San Diego Comic-Con is right around the corner. It's kind of hard to believe it's so close. One week from today I'll be in sunny San Diego, probably trying to get my registration and badge squared away.
Programming is always the primary thought at this point. Going over the schedule, trying to figure out what's a "must see," and what's not. I have to say it's the part of the whole process I hate, and love the most.
I love it because it's all about possibilities. It's this list of wonderful things to see, wonderful creators to ask questions of. Movie Stars right in front of you, etc....
I hate it, well...Look at the daily schedules:
Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday
No matter how you finesse this process, you're going to miss something you would really like to see. Take Saturday, for example. In Hall H, the huge "it's a big deal" room, we have a string of movie presentations. Green Lantern, Harry Potter (meh), Cowboys and Aliens (Harrison Ford...maybe), and the big Marvel deal Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. It's all stuff I would like to see...
But entering Hall H means YOU ARE IN HALL H, and going in and out is not really an option. You want a seat? You stay right where you are. If I go in there on Saturday, I miss out on all the other panels that might be happening.
And there's stuff I'd like to see, Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams talking about their 70's Batman work, a panel on SHAZAM! (Captain Marvel) in the Golden Age (that would be pre-50's). Not to mention various panels with current writers and artists. Y'know, the COMIC BOOK stuff.
Early on, I swore I wouldn't spend all day waiting to see some 2 minute sizzle reel, that would be on the internet within hours. That I would remember my past SDCC trips, and how the most memorable panels featured people you really want to see speak before they leave us. In 2006 I saw a Golden Age Batman panel that was amazing, a bunch of old pros talking about what a bastard Batman creator Bob Kane was. It was fun, interesting, and I think half of that panel is no longer with us.
In 2008 Sean H and I watched a tribute panel for Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher/Editor, and general spokesman for fanboys everywhere, Forrest J. "Forry" Ackerman. He passed away less than six months later. Watching Forry in front of that room, even in as poor a health as he was, was one of the most moving things I had ever seen. He could barely speak any longer, but the man just glowed. It was so clear how much he loved entertaining people and seeing the fan community around him. By the end of the string of testimonials and stories about Mr. Ackerman, I was literally in tears.
I spent 3 hours waiting to get into the Watchmen panel that year, and left feeling like "well, that was OK."
Yeah, I think maybe sticking to the "no movies" rule is a good plan.