Tuesday, December 29, 2009

20 Answers with Dan Didio: Holiday Edition

20 Answers with Dan Didio: Newsarama's video series in which Dan DiDio answers YOUR questions about recent DC news and more.

In part three, Didio tackles questions like "Why Do You Hate The Titans?" and "What makes the maiming of Red Arrow significantwhen he has friends who are capable of replacing his arm?"

Dan says "I really don't hate the Titans," and he questions whether Titans is really the most maimed and killed group in the DCU. He says that because the characters are young, they are often placed in situations above their means.

He talks about Red Arrow, and says the story isn't about replacing an arm with a cybernetic arm. It's a story where there's a "lot of emotional depth going on." Since Roy is an archer, the loss of his arm is the loss of his ability to do what he does best. He loses a part of him that helped define him as a person.

Check out thee video for all the answers in Dan's own words.

Adventure Comics #6 Features Titans, Briefly

Pick up ADVENTURE COMICS #6. There's a VERY, VERY, VERY brief appearance of the crew reunited.


A Flash Update from Geoff Johns

Superstar writer (an all-around nice guy) Geoff Johns has posted an update concerning the recent changes in Flash on ComicBloc:

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I hope you all have save travels if you’re heading somewhere for the holidays.

Obviously, there have been some changes (among many) in DC’s approach to co-features and, in particular, the Flash universe that have raised questions and frustrations. Yes, THE FLASH will no longer have the Wally West co-feature. It’ll remain one of DC’s $2.99 books rather than $3.99 and Barry Allen will be the lead character. Yes, the plans for creating a book title KID FLASH have altered. (The creative team lined up never started on the book.) And, yes, it was a mistake to announce our plans before they were set in stone. Everyone was just excited about the Flash. No one wants to disappoint anyone. That’s not only bad business, it’s bad karma. So all that above? That’s the bad news.

But there is good news too. You will see the stories Scott Kolins and I have been working on. You will see Wally and Bart and everyone (Jesse will surprise a lot of people!). You will see the Flash universe grow organically. No one wants the Flash universe to achieve the same heights Green Lantern has more than me and the creative and editorial team working on it (and maybe the bean counters at DC!
). I'm also working hard on the movie. Despite what it looks like, the plans have grown for the Flash universe, although the rollout for things has changed. Imagine something more like how Green Lantern grew. The Flash universe is set for something VERY big in 2011 as well. It’ll take a bit more time to build (not too much), but in the long run I do believe the foundation will be stronger for it. I can’t get into specifics too much and I don’t want to until we literally have covers to show – which I’m sure will frustrate some people – but I don’t want to see anyone disappointed.

I am incredibly excited about the future of the Flash and I think when things are finally rolling in April, you all will be too.

I'll try and answer any questions I can when I can over the next few days.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from titanstower.com

"Christmas with the Teen Titans"
I did this piece for fun for the holidays.

Here's Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Static, Bombshell, Aquagirl, Blue Beetle, Kid Devil, Miss Martian, Ravager, and Zatara celebrating the season!

Hope everyone has a wonderful safe holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wally And Bart Sidelined in 2010

Kelson's excellent Speed Force Blog has posted some unfortunate Flash-related news:

So…DC’s latest 20 Questions with Dan Didio video has some bad news for fans of the extended Flash family. He answered my question about the Flash and Kid Flash books, explaining that they’ve decided to go back to “the original game plan” and focus on a single Flash book starring Barry Allen.

Wally West’s backup stories, by Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins? “On hold.” [Edit: This may be the result of DC restructuring the second features.]

The Kid Flash book by Sterling Gates? “On hold.”

He goes on to say, “Your Flash fix will be Barry Allen, pure and simple, for 2010.”

Kelson goes on to say:

Congratulations, Dan. You’ve just lost yourself a reader.

I’ve been hanging on through Flash: Rebirth hoping I would see something in it that would convince me that I might actually want to read stories with Barry Allen, but I just haven’t seen it. The announcement of backup features starring Wally West gave me something to look forward to. The Kid Flash book starring Bart Allen was something I wanted to read. The lead stories with Barry? I was hoping they’d grow on me.

But you know what? I just don’t care anymore.

Honestly, at this moment, I don’t care about reading the conclusion of Flash: Rebirth. I don’t care about the new series. I don’t care about the Secret Files. It’s even killing my enthusiasm for Blackest Night: The Flash, which I actually liked.

Click here to read the rest of Kelson's (completely legitimate) rant. He pretty much echoes my thoughts. One wonders if DC is interested in keeping readesr these days.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Titans In March

DC Comics has released solicitation information and images for new comics and products shipping in March 2010.

On sale MARCH 31 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by FELICIA D. HENDERSON Co-feature written by SEAN MCKEEVER Art and cover by JOE BENNETT & JACK JADSON Co-feature art by YILDIRAY CINAR & J/LIO FERREIRA
The Teen Titans are reunited with Static, but can they survive the power of Holocaust? And will Static stay with the Titans if he survives? Plus, Ravager’s nemesis forces her to make a decision: Is her life worth the lives of a dozen innocent girls?

On sale MARCH 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Written by EDDIE BERGANZA Art and cover by ANGEL UNZUETA
Spotlight on Red Arrow! As Roy Harper lies in critical condition after the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #5, his fever dreams show him the perfect future life he wants for the Titans. Unfortunately for him, it’s a life the Titans will never see.

On sale MARCH 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.50 US
Art and cover by Art Baltazar
It’s the time of year for an all-green, never-mean issue of TINY TITANS! Miss Martian chases after Gizmo! Beast Boy chases after Miss Martian! Kroc eats things! Hmm, that last one doesn’t quite fit… But wait – some of the things he eats are green! That’s better.

On sale MARCH 31 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by JAMES ROBINSON Art by MARK BAGLEY & ROB HUNTER 1:25 Variant cover by MIKE MAYHEW
Following the decision that occurred in JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE and the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1, the World’s Greatest Heroes must come to terms with who they are and what they represent. Meanwhile, an all-new danger threatens the existence of everything past and present in the exciting finale of “Team History.” Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

On sale MARCH 24 • 1 of 4 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by J.T. KRUL Art by GERALDO BORGES & MARLO ALQUIZA Cover by GREG HORN 1:25 variant cover by MIKE MAYHEW
In JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE, Roy Harper lost everything at the hands of Prometheus, barely surviving the brutal severing of his arm. But when he finally awakens from his coma, Roy will find that his dangerous journey into despair is just beginning. Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

On sale MARCH 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Written by J.T. KRUL Art by DIOGENES NEVES Cover by MAURO CASCIOLI 1:25 variant cover by MIKE MAYHEW
“The Fall of Green Arrow” begins here! Spinning out of the shocking events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 comes the destruction of Green Arrow. As Oliver Queen’s inner turmoil and guilt overwhelms him, secrets are revealed that will tear him asunder. What will the Emerald Archer reveal to the world that will change his life and the lives of the people around him forever? And why are Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Barry Allen (The Flash) and the rest of the Justice League hunting him? Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

On sale MARCH 24 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by GEOFF JOHNS Art by SCOTT KOLINS, FRANCIS MANAPUL & OTHERS Cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL Flash Facts! In the aftermath of BLACKEST NIGHT and THE FLASH: REBIRTH comes the beginning of a new era for Barry Allen and the deadly Rogues! As Barry readjusts to life again, strange happenings explode across Central City that will lead to one of the most bizarre murder mysteries Barry will ever face in the upcoming THE FLASH #1! Plus, don’t miss Wally West, Kid Flash, Gorilla Grodd and a cold case that will send The Flash down a path unlike any other. Run – don’t walk – to pick it up!

On sale MARCH 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
“Brainiac & The Legion of Super-Heroes” Part 2! Amidst Brainiac’s assault on New Krypton, General Zod has brandished the Legion of Super-Heroes terrorists and imprisoned them! Superboy will do his best to free them, but he’ll have to go through Supergirl first! That’s right, it’s the Super-battle of the sexes you’ve been waiting for! Poor Ma Kent is going to be so disappointed in them…

On sale MARCH 31 • 8 of 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
1:25 Variant cover by RODOLFO MIGLIARI • 1:100 Sketch variant cover by IVAN REIS
The extra-sized conclusion to the most talked-about event in comics is here, and the results will change the course of the DC Universe for years to come. Earth has become the final battleground for life versus death, but how will our heroes fight back against the darkness of sentient space itself? And what does the future hold for Green Lantern, The Flash and the rest of the world’s greatest heroes and villains? Find out here as the stage is set for the next epic era of DC Comics!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

Advance-solicited • On sale APRIL 7 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US
The team faces the new Fearsome Five in these tales from TEEN TITANS #71-78. Plus, the Calculator seeks vengeance after the teen heroes failed to protect his children.

Advance-solicited •On sale MAY 12 • 144 pg, FC $24.99 US
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Superboy is back — and can’t wait to jump back into his life in these tales from ADVENTURE COMICS #0-3 and 5-6, plus a tale from SUPERMAN SECRET FILES 2009. But which life will it be? Conner makes a beeline for the greatest place on Earth: Smallville. While Conner reunites with his former girlfriend, Wonder Girl, Lex Luthor and Brainiac form a partnership that will cause havoc throughout the DC Universe.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Look Who's Back With Teen Titans

The cover to TEEN TITANS #81 sorta says it all...

Are we impressed? Excited? Nonplussed? Fearful?

Friday, December 11, 2009

JT Krul on The Rise Of Arsenal

IGN reports: " With Cry for Justice wrapping in the coming months, DC has announced three new projects to detail the coming changes for the team and the characters, each written by Blackest Night: Titans scribe J.T. Krul. The first of these three, a special one-shot called Justice League: The Rise and Fall, drawn by Mike Mayhew, will serve as an epilogue of sorts to Cry for Justice while gearing up for Krul's other two projects. Following Rise and Fall will be a four-issue miniseries called, interestingly enough, Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal, drawn by Geraldo Borges, and a six-issue arc in Green Arrow's ongoing, drawn by Diogenes Neves, called "The Fall of Green Arrow."

IGN Comics sat down with Krul to talk about these projects, his take on Ollie and Roy, and why the latter might be going back to his former alias."

IGN Comics: Will the relationship between Ollie and Roy embody that ethical rift between the Justice League members at all?

Krul: What happens with them is definitely a huge part of it. But it is a larger picture, so what happens with Roy definitely impacts the other team members. It's a little bit like what happened with Identity Crisis, where you have the people that were on board for the mind wipe of Dr. Light and the ones that weren't on board.

IGN Comics: The last half-year or so has seen you dive headlong into the DCU with various projects. How did you get involved with these latest projects?

Krul: I was already working with Eddie Berganza, Adam Schlagman and Brian Cunningham on Blackest Night: Titans, and I had done the Red Arrow spotlight issue for Brian on Titans. That's how the Arsenal thing came about - they knew I was a huge Roy fan and have been a fan of his forever. I jumped at the Titans spotlight issue, then when I got wind of what they had in store for Roy and they talked to me about that, I didn't have to think about it at all.

As far as the Green Arrow story goes, that just kind of happened organically. They knew I was doing the Arsenal thing and then decided I'd do a Black Lantern Green Arrow story in February. Doing the Green Arrow arc seemed a natural transition from that.

The Rise Of Arsenal

DC Universe: The Source reports:

Take a minute to process that amazing piece of Mauro Cascioli art. Ok. Done? Let’s go.

If you’ve been following JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE, then you know some major events have been shaking up Green Arrow and his supporting cast’s status. Specifically, Red Arrow finding himself one arm short of a pair.

What happens when a hero has a fateful decision to make? And how can another hero rebuild his world after a life-altering tragedy?

Both ideas are explored in two special books hitting in March, both written by J.T. Krul: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE AND FALL #1, which bridges the gap between JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE OF ARSENAL four-issue mini-series. Concurrently, readers of the ongoing GREEN ARROW series will deal with the fallout in a storyline titled “The Fall of Green Arrow,” starting with issue #31.

What happened? Who’s to blame? What does this mean for the Emerald Archer and his former sidekick? We don’t know, but we can shine the spotlight on Mr. Krul for a sec to share a few thoughts. Take it away, J.T.:

“I was super fortunate to be able to play a role in BLACKEST NIGHT, and I have to say I’m even more excited — if that’s possible — about being able to take on Roy Harper and Green Arrow as their stories spill out of Cry For Justice. James has been building to a monster climax in his book, and no two characters will be as changed as much as Roy and Ollie. And, the story isn’t even over yet. The title RISE and FALL says it all in terms of where these characters are headed. It’s going to be a dark and tragic road for both them and I’m hoping readers will be hooked by where Ollie and Roy come out in the end.”

I really like Roy as Arsenal, but this is not how I would have chosen he get there.

Rating Each Titans Era

Thought you guys might enjoy this.... Your opinions may differ!

Haney/Skeates/Cardy Era
(Teen Titans #1-43)

It's a little hard to look at this era through modern eyes. It was goofy. It tried so hard to be hip, but wasn't. But it was fun and imaginative. And Nick Cardy was just about the perfect artist for the book, since he really knew how to draw young people. The characters "grew up" a bit during their "revelant phase" for a more Marvelized approach, which I think helped deepen and define them. There's still a lot of charm and imagination to be found in these pages.
Grade: B+

Rozakis Era
(Teen Titans #44-53)

This seemed like a desperate attempt to chase Marvel's tail, like many DC books in the late 70s. There was a lot of action and in-fighting, along with some ongoing angst. Although Bumblebee and Joker's Daughter are beloved characters now, they were pretty contrived at their introductions. And the fads! Everything from a disco headquarters to roller-skating villains. These weren't very good stories. The run is partly redeemed by its excellent final issue, where Speedy is ret-conned as an original member and the Teen Titans' origin is told for the first time. And the Titans West arc is actually pretty cool.
Grade: C

Wolfman/Perez Era
(New Teen Titans #1-40, (vol 2) #1-6, Tales of TT #41-58)

What is there to say? This run reignited the Teen Titans and introduced many characters that are still popular today. Bold new stories and Perez's excellent art took the comic world by storm. Almost every issue was wildly entertaining and the overall run has become a comic book classic.
Grade: A

Wolfman/Jose Garcia-Lopez/Eduardo Barreto Era
(New Teen Titans (vol 2) #7-49)

Marv Wolfman admitted that the Teen Titans suffered while he was busy with Crisis. The initital stuff was good, bolstered by the art of Jose Garcia-Lopez. And the Starfire marriage storyline was good, although it dragged on a bit. By the time Danny Chase was added, the book had gotten a little stale and predictable. And although Barreto is a great artist, he suffered by comparison to Perez.
Grade: B

Wolfman/Perez Era II
(New Titans #50-70, Secret Origins Annual #3)

They say "you can't go back again," But George Perez returned to finally solve the mystery of "Who Is Wonder Girl?" New Titans #50-55 were great. And the Raven/Eric Forrester story was a great piece as well. And thankfully, Perez was there to help Wolfman sort out the Titans' Post-Crisis continuity in an origins and flashback story. (I still hate the ret-conned Gnarrk, though). Too bad Perez didn't stay on long enough to fully recapture the magic.
Grade: B+

Titans Hunt Era (Wolfman/Grummett)
(New Titans #71-99, Team Titans #1-12)

The controversial Titans Hunt storyline divided fandom. Some fans loved it, others not so much. But it's undeniable that the storyline re-energized the book completely. It gave it an uneasiness and an edge that had been lacking for some time. It's too bad the storyline was fractured by crossovers. It's also too bad that the Post-Titans Hunt stories seemed to meander a bit. But this era gets major points for its audacity, and its ability to keep me on the edge of my seat month after month.
Grade: B+ for Titans Hunt
Grade: B- for Post-Titans Hunt

The Darkening (Wolfman/Jaaska)
(New Titans #100-113, Team Titans #13-24)

Possibly the worst era in Titans history. Jonathan Peterson, the editor who ushered the Titans Hunt era, abruptly left DC to do his own project, leaving the title completely rudderless. Compounding matters, Billa Jaaska was assigned to the title. Now, Jaaska would probably be fine for something like Night Force, but his style did not suit the Titans at all. The era was filled with bad stories, meandering plotlines and bad art. Just terrible all around.
Grade: F

Post-Zero Hour (Wolfman/Rosado)
(New Titans #114-130)

Thankfully, things picked up a bit after Zero Hour. Wolfman was winding down, and his fatigue showed in some of the stories. But at least we had a working team again. It also gave Arsenal the interesting role as leader while Nightwing was snatched up by the Bat-books. Rosado's art wasn't half bad. And I didn't mind some of the new members, like Terra II, Mirage, Damage, and Rose Wilson. New Titans #126 is a stand-out issue. And the final arc did some damage control.
Grade: B-

Jurgens' Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 2) #1-24)

I was really willing to give this brand-new incarnation a try. Especially with George Perez on inks. But the whole thing never clicked with me. I wasn't crazy about the shared origin. I thought the new team members had about as much depth as the characters from Saved By The Bell. Dan Jurgens writes a good Superman, but he really isn't equipped to write teenagers. Atom's de-aging seemed desperate. And I don't think I can forgive them for turning Lilith into a Raven-clone, which I think ultimately led to her being killed off. Things didnt get any better with "I wanna be my daddy" Roy Harper and (shudder) Fringe. The art was sometimes pretty.
Grade: D

Devin Grayson Titans (w/Jay Faerber)
(JLA/Titans #1-3, Titans #1-25)

I think this run is completely under-rated. The story that brought it all together (JLA/Titans) was one of the best Titans stories ever. The idea of the old guard training the new guard (like Argent and Damage) is perfect. The Tartarus storyline and its aftermath was good. There was a good mix of old and new elements (although Goth was a big fat "miss" for me). Devin Grayson began co-plotting with Jay Faerber with #17, and left the book by #21. And Jay gave us the good "Who Is Troia?" storyline. Some really nice stuff in this Titans run.
Grade: B+

Jay Faerber Titans (w/Kitson and Peyer)
(Titans #26-50)

It's already widely documented that editor Andy Helfer forced Faerber to run with the DEO Kids storyline. Their initial arrival isn't bad, neither is the Cheshire/Roy story in Titans #30. But once the DEO Kids dominated the book, things quickly soured. Add to that, the loathesome story where Jesse Quick sleeps with her mom's fiancee. Peyer's arrival didn't help much, with some weird Morrison-lite stories. Three words, people: tin foil hats.
Grade: C-

Geoff Johns/Mike McKone Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #1-25)

And like a breath of fresh air, the Titans franchise gets a new lease on life courtesy of Geoff Johns and Mike McKone. A blend of new and old, the Titans gets some new blood by graduating the Young Justice kids to Titans status. The first 12 issues are great stuff, with the return of Deatshtroke and Jericho, as well as the rise of the Ravager and a new Brother Blood. The second year is strengthened by the "Titans of Tomorrow" arc and a mega-Titans team-up against Dr. Light. McKone's art gets better as he's on the book, and the man also doesn't get enough credit for his excellent costume designs and updates.
Grade: A-

Geoff Johns/Tony Daniel Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #26-45)

It's funny how history repeats itself. Just as the New Teen Titans suffered when Marv Wolfam was distracted by the Crisis on Inifinite Earths.... Teen Titans suffers as Geoff Johns sorts out the Infinite Crisis. Things got better for the first two "One Year Later" arcs, in which new team members Ravager and Kid Devil really shine and Jericho is redeemed . Unfortunately, Geoff and Tony go out on a low note with the fractured "Titans East" storyline. And the topsy-turvy membership fall-out killed all the momentum of the book.
Grade: B-

Sean McKeever/Eddy Barrows Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #50-71)

I loved a lot of Sean McKeever's stuff at Marvel. And I thought he was the perfect writer to take on the Titans. His run was ultimately uneven, from what seems to be editorial interference at various points. His opening "Titans Tomorrow" storyline wasn't a great sequel to the first. And the death of Marvin was particularly an offensive moment. We still see some of that McKeever magic peeking out... with some great dialogue bits. Sean also continued with some great character work on Ravager and Kid Devil. The Blue Beetle/Kid Devil team was fun. And Sean actually made Bombshell a decent character, and made some inroads to explaining Cassie's annoying behavior. It's such a shame we never got 100% McKeever, because I think it coulda been a great run.
Grade: B

Judd Winick Titans
(Titans (vol 2) #1-10)

It's hard to find things that aren't appalling in this short run. It starts with the massacre of several DCU teenagers. It ret-cons some important elements of the original Trigon stories. Trigon is inexplicably brought back from the grave to bicker and banter with his daughter - while his gangbanger Trigon Boyz wreck havoc. It doesn't get any better when Jericho returns as a raving lunatic. To be objective, I suppose there is a miniscule bit of good. The Dick/Kory scene in Titans #5 is effective, as is Raven's outburst ("I'm... wrong!") . But so much of this run is absolutely distasteful, with the added "benefit" of actually "ruining" past stories. For these reasons, I think this run actually earns the distinction of being the worst Titans run of all time. The mind boggles. What were they thinking?
Grade: F

Titans Sales Watch: November

Thanks again to DeTroyes! He writes 'em, I post 'em.

ICv2 has released sales estimates for November, and.... WOW!!! Blackest Night CONTINUES to be a huge shot in the arm for each title it touches.

As always, figures courtesy of ICv2.

Raw Data:


Issue # / Release Month / Year / # Units Sold / +/- Previous Month

Teen Titans (Ongoing)
#77 November 2009 46,239 +17,073

Titans (Ongoing)
#19 November 2009 27,099 -1,116

Tiny Titans (Ongoing)
#22 November 2009 8,100 -159

Vigilante (Ongoing)
#12 (end) November 2009 6,450 -521

Doom Patrol (Ongoing)
#4 November 2009 53,748 +33,712


Teen Titans -- I expected a sales bump due to Blackest Night. 3k-4k was what I thought was a reasonable estimate, with 5k being a possibility. After all, the series hasn't been getting good word-of-mouth for months, and the sales have reflected that. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a FREAK'IN 17k JUMP IN SALES just because of a connection to Blackest Night. Wow. And even that pales in comparison to the jump Doom Patrol received. For the future, I still think TT's sales slide has for the most part abated -- next issue will probably be lower than this issue but likely in the same realm, and with it being announced that Bart and Conner will be returning to TT I think post-BN the sales level will settle into some average between TT #76 & TT #77, with the levels increasing once Bart and Conner officially rejoin.

Titans -- Still in a holding pattern. I don't expect this book to get much better sales-wise between now and the Titans Annual in March, when the Deathstroke era kicks off.

Tiny Titans -- Still chugging along its merry way.

Vigliante -- *sigh* Rest in peace.

Doom Patrol -- A testament to the power and popularity of Blackest Night. This was the first issue to come out under the "power rings" promotion; it will be interesting to see where sales fall on the next issue without the enticement of plastic promotions. I expect sales will still fall significantly above sales of the first three issues. Hopefully a good percentage of them will stick around once BN is finished.


Overall analysis: Blackest Night continues to be an impressive sales-force in its own right, turning to gold (or at least, copper) anything it touches. While it won't last, it is providing a welcome shot in the arm to several struggling titles. Hopefully the after-effects will be there for a long, long time to come.

Until next month...


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thoughts from EARTH ONE

Announced on Newsarama: “How to cast aside the continuity-heavy past of their major characters and offer an easily accessible version of Batman, Superman, and others to new readers has been a question that plagues not just DC but other companies with established universes as well. DC's solution comes in the form of Earth One, a series of ongoing graphic novels. “

“These are all-new stories presented as book-size tales, rather than single-issue magazine length stories. They feature a continuity that will be shared amongst the line, and is all-new to DC's comic books as a whole. The first two announced books are the natural starting points, Superman: Earth One and Batman: Earth One. Both books will focus on a revised origin and "early years" story featuring the titular characters, with updates being made for today's time period and audience. Superman: Earth One will be written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by artist Shane Davis. Batman: Earth One comes from scribe Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, the team whom are currently in the midst of re-establishing Superman's origin in the core DC Universe, the one that acknowledges the past 70 years of story to varying degrees.”

I’m of several minds about this. First, the positives. There’s some good talent behind these books. Talent that is capable of telling good stories. And anything that may capture a wider comics-reading audience is a good thing indeed. And I have no doubts that everyone is well-intentioned in bringing forth some excellent Superman and Batman adventures.

This is obviously the next extension of DC’s All-Star line, which was launched with similar intentions (stand-alone “iconic” stories by DC’s top talent, unencumbered by DC’s current comic book continuity). That line produced ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and ALL-STAR BATMAN (which still hasn’t been completed and has been criminally late). ALL-STAR WONDER WOMAN and ALL-STAR BATGIRL were both announced months and months ago, only for ALL-STAR BATGIRL to be canceled, while ALL-STAR WONDER WOMAN is “being worked on by Adam Hughes” (forgive me if I don’t hold my breath).

The All-Star line seemed like DC’s answer to Marvel’s once-red-hot Ultimate line of comics. That line established modern takes on Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers (among others) with varying degrees of commercial and creative success. Once a flourishing ancillary universe, sales waned over the years. And 10 years later, I think Marvel is wondering what to do with the line, which now has its own accumulated continuity. So, what was the point of this line again? To bring in new readers with fresh jumping-on points? With 10 years of continuity, the books stand with the same accessibility as your average Marvel Comic (which, by the way, have recap pages every issue).

Geoff Johns explains at AICN: “BATMAN: EARTH ONE is more in line with the European idea of releasing chapters of an ongoing series in graphic novel form. We’re planning on doing two novels a year and set in this new universe, we’re getting unlimited creative freedom that we couldn’t have in current continuity.”

So now, DC’s latest venture is another restart. Another new “version.” The difference is that they will be a series of graphic novels. I suppose the logic is to tap into the HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT audiences, who have followed the serial adventures of its characters through several novels. It’s not a new idea, but something that has caught the world’s attention through the popularity of movies and media. I’d wager that’s DC’s intention here- to create a series of novels that have the same sort of appeal.


I’m still not sold on why we NEED yet another umpteenth retelling of the origins of Batman and Superman. And not just retellings, but revamped “new continuity” retellings. Everyone knows these heroes and their origins. I’m not sure we need a more “kick-ass” Alfred to make him cool. Alfred already is cool. I’d even wager to guess that such jarring variations would only confuse a new audience, who are familiar with the Alfred of the Batman movies or animated television series, all of which have been fairly consistent. And it seems that other characters will vary quite a bit, going by Geoff Johns’ comment on AICN: “Some of it the characters will more closely resemble the classic interpretations while others will be wildly different. We’re introducing a lot of new characters and elements to this Batman.”

This is where I get a little confused. Why do we need these completely new universes?

Just tell good stories. That’s it. You don't have to reference Knightfall or Death of Superman or what happened in Superman #214 to do that. The “classic” graphic novels were built on this idea. “The Death of Captain Marvel” stood as its own powerful tale of heroism and loss. “The Killing Joke” is a stand-alone tale that gives insight into the Joker’s twisted mind. Even the “New Mutants” and “She-Hulk” and “X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills” graphic novels were stand-alone adventures. They just told good stories that were unencumbered by continuity. I honestly think today’s comic book companies make more out of continuity than is needed. Like all it does is weigh down every story.

Consider, in the 70s and 80s, each comic had little origin blurbs on the splash page that recounted the character origin. And BAM, you’re off and running. You don’t need anything more than that, and you surely don’t need an entirely new continuity/universe.

Geoff Johns mentions that this venture offers “unlimited creative freedom that we couldn’t have in current continuity.” This is another idea I don’t quite understand. It seems like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Julie Schwartz, John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Grant Morrison (among countless, countless others) produced many creative stories within the confines of a shared universe. Heck, Geoff Johns and JMS both have as well. I think it’s a shame that DC feels its own continuity has become such a burden, such an albatross... that it actually limits creative freedom. That it somehow prevents stories from being better.". And it forever will be as long as editorial sees it that way.


Creators often talk about how cool the characters are, and how they cant wait to write their adventures. But the newest trend is to ignore previous stories, and build these ground-up versions of the characters, picking and choosing which continuity bits to use/toss. Whereas Marvel plays fast-and-loose with continuity, DC actually goes through cosmic convolusions to reset, reboot, revamp their characters with time paradoxes and brand-new whole-cloth histories that even editorial can’t keep straight. Some would say that supports the need for these “brand new” continuity stories in graphic novel form... But I don’t agree with that assessment....

Consider, for over 60 years, DC was able to tell stories with its characters without each creator rebooting their entire histories or back-stories. Even in the Post-Crisis world, creators dealt with the cards they were given, and pushed characters in new directions through story. Now, everything is just tossed out (See recent Doom Patrol, Legion of Super-Heroes, Post-Infinite Crisis histories) and restarted. Superman’s revised history was just retold in SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, only to be negated and now told again in the still-running SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN mini-series by Geoff Johns. Only to be retold again, in a completely new continuity by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) in the upcoming SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE. At what point do we stop picking at scabs? And trying to each make distinctive marks on the same stories? The origins of Batman and Superman have endured for so long because they are wonderful origin stories. We don’t need to keep telling them ad-nauseum.


A lot is made of also making these Earth One novels more “modern”... JMS says on AICN, “So to the point of your question, what I'm trying to do is to dig in to the character and look at him through modern eyes. If you were to create the Superman story today, for the first time, but keep intact all that works, what would it look like? As a fledgling writer I used to love going to see productions of Shakespeare because what would often be done would be to take that original play and move it forward in time.”

I support what JMS says about portraying the Daily Planet reporters and photographers. That’s cool. But again, just tell a modern Superman tale. Why all the continuity re-doing? You don't need new continuity to have modern sensibilities. Heck, you don't need a new series of graphic novels to have modern sensibilities.

I mean.... haven’t comic books been doing that all along? The X-Men metaphor of racism and alienation has spoken to the black movement, the gay movement and social evolution in general. The X-Men is currently a story point that includes “Prop X” (and obvious riff on Prop 8), which is trying to ban mutants from pro-creating. And Marvel’s recent “Super-Hero Registration Act” is a thinly veiled take on “The Patriot Act,” is it not? An ongoing plot in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN acknowledges the increasing irrelevance of the Daily Bugle newspaper. Punisher was once a disillusioned Vietnam vet (something that was relevant in the 80s, but has been conveniently forgotten as not to age Frank Castle too much). There are countless other examples....

The other “danger zone” about the “modern take” in graphic novels is how far you push that. Will Gordon put away the Bat Signal and poke Batman on facebook instead? Is Clark Kent going to work for the Daily Tweet instead of the Daily Planet? The problem with things like this (especially if you are courting a young audience) is that they become horribly dated within a year.

One last thought: modern takes on Superman and Batman... Shouldn’t that always be the goal? In their own, y’know, comic books?


This is one I have a hard time understanding. Why would DC name this project “Earth One”? At least “All Star” was a trade-dress that spoke to the fact that DC put its top talents on the books. “Earth One” has special meaning to DC fans – it was the original super-hero world before the events of the cosmic-time-shattering Crisis on Infinite Earths. Now composed of 52 earths, it seems that DC is announcing to fans that this is ‘Earth One.” So that means the Pre-Crisis Earth One is gone forever, only to be revisited in our long box archives?

JMS says, “At this juncture, the book operates outside DC continuity. At some point way, way down the road, some of that may be folded in, but again that's a long ways away.” So, why call these “Earth One”? It’s a confusing way to launch a brand new line that is screaming about accessibility.

And to the casual/new fans it hopes to attract: “Earth One” not only has zero meaning, it raises strange questions. Is this a different earth? Are there other earths? They may even wonder if it’s a storyline, as it sits next to other collected trade paperbacks like “Civil War” and “Blackest Night.”

I think it’s a huge mistake calling this line “Earth One.” I can’t imagine why DC would do that. It’s an amusing irony that DC’s purported easy-access new venture is saddled with a title that carries continuity baggage! Only DC could manage that one!


I’m a little unclear on what the overall goal of this project is. Newsarama’s blurb says, the Earth One graphic novels will “cast aside the continuity-heavy past of their major characters and offer an easily accessible version of Batman, Superman, and others to new readers has been a question that plagues not just DC but other companies with established universes as well. “

So, how will this be communicated and marketed to these theoretical new readers? These Earth One graphic novels will be sitting beside the latest trade paperback collections of comic books, correct? What makes them different in the eyes of John Q Public? And once a few novels are underway, it will have its own accumulated continuity, will it not?

For old mainstay readers, it’s an Elseworlds series in graphic novel form. Or, it’s an alternate-earth story in the old DC tradition, but with modern trappings. Or, it’s DC doing an Ultimate line in graphic novel form. In other words, it's nothing new, really.

So I’m not sure if any of these things will re-energize the industry or bring in any new readers.

Because all you have to do for that to happen... is to tell good, accessible stories. Bruce Timm has been doing it for over 15 years now. Take a page from his playbook. And please, DC, stop demonizing continuity and just tell good stories with your wonderful characters that have endured for over 60 years. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the entire universe of your core characters to accomplish that.


Preview: Titans #20

Newsarama has a preview of Titans #20

Titans #20
Written by Mike Johnson; Art by Sergio Ariño and Wayne Faucher; Cover by Angel Unzueta

Spotlight on Donna Troy! What happens when a young twenty-something woman feels like she grew up too fast and deprived herself of a twenty-something kind of life? As Donna ponders this, the Fearsome Five continue their Titans revenge streak. They picked the wrong time to do it…


Friday, December 04, 2009

Superboy's Future in ADVENTURE COMICS

DC Universe: The Source blog (which, by the way, if one of the worst blog names ever) has posted some news about the post-Geoff-Johns ADVENTURES COMICS #8:

ADVENTURE COMICS #8 is the start of a four-issue arc connecting ADVENTURE to the next big Superman story - “Brainiac & The Legion of Super-Heroes.” James Robinson & Julian Lopez will provide a 10-page story about the Legion members who are in the 21st Century; Sterling Gates & Clayton Henry will provide a 10-pager about the Legion in the 31st Century; and Eric Trautmann & DC newcomer Pier Gallo (wait till you see this guy’s stuff!) will provide a 10-pager about General Lane’s Human Defense Corps.

The Superman writers have crafted a really fun and epic story in “Brainiac & The Legion of Super-Heroes” (which will run in ADVENTURE, SUPERMAN, SUPERGIRL and a tittle-to-be-named-later in March). Featuring Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Mon-El and the Legion of Super-Heroes, it not only brings to a head all the Legion subplots that DC has been laying down since the JLA/JSA “Lightning Saga” story, but also sets the stage for this summer’s blockbuster Superman event!

the link provides some artwork.

Red Arrow's Gruesome Fate

Newsarama takes a look at the latest Titans-related maiming: "SPOILERS FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #5 AHOY: You’ve either seen or heard what happened in last week’s issue of Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 by now. In the last few pages, an apparently mind-controlled Freddy “Shazam!” Freeman is revealed to have ripped off Roy “Red Arrow” Harper’s right arm above the elbow. Supergirl cauterizes the wound with her heat vision prior to taking on Freddy (whom it would seem is doing the bidding of Prometheus) on the final page. I have a variety of thoughts on this, so I’ll just separate them out and take them one at a time."

A lot of fans feel betrayed by what they see as the frequent maiming and killing of heroes that they enjoy following. And Roy’s not exactly a new guy; he’s been around in some form for 68 years as of last month. The most obvious manifestation of this discontent where the Justice League is concerned in centered around characters associated with the Justice League International. In recent years, Blue Beetle II, Rocket Red, and more have been killed off. Most recently, Tasmanian Devil, a JLI supporting player and one of the few gay super-heroes in the DCU, was killed and skinned for a rug by the villain of this very series. While it’s a truth of both comics and the real world that terrible things happen to heroes, a number of readers feel disenfranchised when actions have been taken to these extremes.

Also, for a character with a lengthy history and presence in the DCU, the move (which could be very easily overturned, as noted above) feels a lot more like a cheap shock, an easy jolt to punch up a cliffhanger. In recent years, that seems more likely to frustrate and anger fans rather than get them back for the next thing.
Is this sort of thing even surprising in the current DCU? Willl Red Arrow become the "big villain in 2010 who isn't a villain yet," according to Didio? Are Titans fans getting too apathetic to care much anymore?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rewinding Donna Troy: Michael Johnson on TITANS #20

from Newsarama: " With next week's Titans #20, Johnson gets the chance to take a closer look at Donna Troy as a character, just before the events of Blackest Night saw the character taking a turn for the worse."

Nrama: So I take it you've always been a Titans fan? And a Donna Troy fan?

Johnson: I've been a Titans fan for as long as I've been reading comics. I started a few issues into the classic Wolfman/Perez run and I was hooked. Anybody reading this who hasn't read those: get off the internet right now and go and find them. Buy them all. Read. Repeat. I could spend hours just talking about the covers alone. "Who Killed Trident?". Terra's earth-ring. The double-whammy of #38 & #39.... And #38, of course, asked "Who Is Donna Troy?" I fell in love with Donna (like a lot of young impressionable fanboys) not only because she was "purty" and powerful, but because she was kind. She was (and is) the moral center of the team, the rock on which the others depend. She is the heart and soul of the Titans.

Nrama: We've seen some changes for Donna during Blackest Night, but assuming this issue takes place before that, can you tell us about how you see Donna – who she is and what she's going through as this story picks up?

Johnson: Yes, this story takes place just before the events of Blackest Night: Titans, so we are seeing Donna react to the events the team has gone through since they reunited, and it hasn't gone as well as anybody hoped. The team dynamic isn't the same, especially since each of them are in a very different place than they were as teenagers. Everyone is spinning off in different directions as their lives inevitably evolve, and Donna has remained in the center, the rock, trying to hold the team together. But that puts enormous pressure on her, and she's reached a point where she wonders if she needs to let go and focus more on her own life. She's just come through another universes-shattering crisis, and jumped right back into the old team, but Donna was always the one who sought to balance super-heroics with a real life. This issue shows her seeking that balance again.

Nrama: How does the story start off?

Johnson: I always loved that Donna was a photographer. It gave her another dimension beyond just a superhero, so the story starts off with Donna being offered a job that requires her to dust off her camera and get back to work. It's an opportunity to get away from super-powered drama and just be herself. Take a bunch of pictures, go to the beach, relax, throw down with the Fearsome Five. The usual.
I love this quote from Johnson: "seeing Donna react to the events the team has gone through since they reunited, and it hasn't gone as well as anybody hoped."

Aint that the truth, Titans fans? lol.

Sounds like he's a real Donna (and Titans) fan tho, so I hope that comes through in the story!