Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Abattoir That Is DC Comics Editorial


 When AT&T bought Warner Brothers, I assumed that some changes would be made to the WB and some of that would trickle down to DC Comics. I have been wondering when the axe would drop or when corporate changes would be made.

 It seems that time is now. As of 8/10, news had leaked out that there were going to be major changes in the DC C suite and Editorial offices. Here is a link to Bleeding Cool's coverage of the proceedings: 

 This is not trimming of the fat. This is a culling of the herd. 

Now I certainly haven't agreed with the path DC has taken in their comics, probably an overall sentiment of the last 20 years or so. But some of the names are good comics people, people who love comics and the characters, and who interact with fans.

Seeing Hank Kanalz, Andy Khouri, and Brian Cunningham listed among those who are leaving was shocking. These were solid folk who I followed and trusted.

Does AT&T even care about this little corner of WB? Is there a vision for the future? Or was this just a purge? 

Does AT&T care about stories and characters? Or only (as Gerry Conway states so eloquently on Twitter) the ability to strip mine the IP for profit?

Or was this just a result of downward economic trends in the pandemic? Employees were laid off everywhere within WB. Or is that just an excuse?


 This doesn't sound too good either. 

'A rapid reduction in titles' means less product on the shelves. I suppose the dust has to settle a bit and new people have to be brought on board. Or maybe AT&T thinks that the world simply doesn't need 50 DC titles a month.

And I will say that I simply dislike reading digital comics. If this is AT&T's way of moving out of the paper publishing business, this might be the death knell for my fandom.

I have pondered the death of comic books and the death of DC Comics for a long time. It suddenly feels a bit more real.


Part of this is the complete dissolution of DC Direct.

Again, per Bleeding Cool, rather than having an in-house department to control and parse out merchandise, AT&T will most likely sell the license for the properties to other companies. 

This also sounds like a bit of a cash grab.

Maybe it just what DC needs. To paraphrase the great Harry Lime, times of chaos are often times of great creativity. If I am sick of most of what DC has been doing recently, maybe things need to be shaken things up a bit.

Still I can't help but feel that this is more like a salting of the Earth than sowing a new crop.


 Maybe I should be thinking more about Swamp Thing #50 and Swampy's thoughts on aphids. Maybe it is only from the evil of this destruction that a purer, more virtuous DC Universe.

I guess we'll have to see.

All that said, only the best for those who have lost their jobs in this cycle.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #267

I've been in a but of a Legion mood these days and figured maybe now was the time to review Supergirl's first interaction with the team. For clarity, I don't own this individual issue but have this story reprinted in multiple places. It is on the dream list.

Action Comics #267 sports a great cover of a spurned Hercules lashing out at a poster of Superman. But the real draw is the Supergirl story when a Legion of Super-Heroes comes to the past to recruit her. 

This is early in Supergirl's career. She is Superman's secret weapon. She is almost paralyzed with fear about breaking Superman's edict that she remain in hiding. But you can see just how much she wants to help and be a hero. These early stories show us this foundation of Supergirl, the need to help people.

It is also interesting that this is the first appearance of three Legionnaires. When you add that to the first appearances of many Legionnaires in the Supergirl story in Action Comics #276, you come to realize just how important Supergirl is to Legion history.

And, as with other elements of Supergirl's early history, some of the details here are changed in future reprints to help form a better continuity. So just like Argo City went from having a 'bubble of atmosphere' to a protective dome, so did a crucial detail here get changed.

On to the story!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Back Issue Box: Legion of Super-Heroes #283

With Wildfire being prominently featured as the opening splash Legionnaire in Legion of Super-Heroes #7 and with some hints about old continuities and histories put in there, I thought it would be fun to review his history. It doesn't hurt that Wildfire is my favorite Legionnaire. So why not let him into the spotlight here a little.
So today I will be reviewing Legion of Super-Heroes #283, a spotlight issue for Wildfire reviewing his history and adding some elements to his back story not seen prior to this. I have to say this is a little bit of a weird and interesting issue for a couple of reasons.

First off, the cover is done by art legend Jim Aparo! Aparo is best known for his Batman work. I don't think he did any other Legion work outside this piece. So getting to see his take on Wildfire alone makes this issue worth it.
Second, Roy Thomas is the writer. Now Thomas has some Legion credits but he is more a WWII kind of writer. I never really cozied up to his Legion stuff. And he oddly inserts a lot of romance (or impossible romance) into this story. Most of Wildfire's angst comes from his failed relationships with women ... which feels a little off. I suppose it plays into his 'not being human, am I truly alive' angst. But weird.

The art is by Howard Bender with inks by Bruce Patterson. I like Patterson's inks and he does a good job here with the visuals which move from college romance to high stakes super-hero action.

Overall, this is a good primer on Wildfire including all the things mentioned in that LSH #7 splash - his failed first attempt at joining the team, his being a hothead with a loud mouth, his concern about not being a 'thing'. 

On to the book.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Review: Young Justice #17

Young Justice #17 came out this week and continued an interesting little run where the team is still trying to figure out where they are and who they are in this new continuity. Nothing says that as elegantly as the cover where we see three of the members in mirror images sporting their old continuity costumes and their current ones.

This issue has a strong them about mentoring and legacy and leading by example. There is a running theme of a young 'normal' girl from Metropolis doing her part in the aftermath of the Legion of Doom attack on the city. She is doing her part and she is seeing what her contemporaries ... the member of Young Justice ... are doing as well. More importantly, we see several of the legacy members of the team interacting with their mentors: Cassie with Diana,  Bart and Barry, etc.

For me, this book has, since its inception, been a sort of throwback. There is a joy in this book even as the heroes struggle with some major identity issues. These are heroes doing heroic things because it is the right thing to do. And there is that sort of exuberance in the characters that I miss in the more dour proceedings in many comics these days. Writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker continue to give us the right mix of fun adventuring while adding the pain of growing up.

The art by Scott Godlewski continues to shine. This is an issue without much action. Instead there are these emotional moments where the tone must be set by expression and body position. In fact there is a panel of Diana in here which sort of floored me.

If I have one complaint it is that the books still seem to be reeling from the multitude of major events happening. This issue takes place before House Of Kent which is now several months in. And that means this book's timeline is delayed and off. But this is a minor complaint.

On to the book.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Back Issue Review: Superman Family #216

 Recently in DC Comics, two Superboys met each other. Jon Kent traveled back from the 31st century to visit Conner Kent in the present.

It made me remember an odd 2 parter from Superman Family when Supergirl from the 500th century travels back in time to team up (sort of) with the Supergirl from the present. It is a crazy story but classic for the Bronze Age. Last week, I reviewed the first part in Superman #215 .

Today, I wrap up the story by reviewing Superman Family #216.

There is a lot that makes little sense in this story. The Supergirls switch times to thwart two villains. But there isn't a clear reason why they have to do that. (At least the villains do have a decent reason to switch time periods.) A lot of the plot points are revealed in a long exposition section in the middle of the story in which one character explains the plot. And the ending is almost two easy.

Still, you have to give writer Marty Pasko some credit for trying to do this story in the constraints of two issues. We barely get a glimpse at the Earth in the 500,000. And in each part, Pasko mentions a prior story where the future Supergirl teamed up with Superman to defeat the villain Toxus. I wonder if Pasko hoped to eventually go back and tell that story.

Otherwise, this story is relatively forgettable. And even the usual steady work by Win Mortimer is diminished by the sparse inks of Vinnie Colletta.

On to the story ... settle in.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #10

 Batman/Superman #10 came out last week, the next part in the Ultra-Humanite story where the Atomic Skull was turned into a villain again and killed.

Yes, there is a plot of the Ultra-Humanite turning humans into walking drone bombs powered by Atomic Skull radiation. But for me, the most interesting part about this is how Superman's recent reveal and his recent busy schedule is weighing on him. That seems to be the undercurrent in Superman's piece of this plot and that is intriguing to me.

Over in Superman, we see that Clark is trying to cope with all his recent problems by talking to Dr. Fate. So why not see that sort of anguish spill over into other books. Writer Joshua Williamson does a good of of showing how different Batman's approach is to this in comparison to Dr. Fate's. Fate reached out with empathy. Bruce tells Clark he shouldn't feel guilty about this problem which is on his plate.

The mystery of these drone bomb zombies progresses here quickly. Our heroes figure out who is behind this and get their first round against them. And there is a very solid cliffhanger.

The art is by Clayton Henry and it is wonderful. Henry draws things big and bold. He makes things scary when they need to be. The action flows well and is vibrant.

On to the book.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #7

Legion of Super-Heroes #7, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Stephen Byrne, came out last week and continued this series interesting new take on my beloved Legion.

As I have said before in my reviews, this title is an interesting mix of all that has come before it. The Legion is a tricky property. It is considered too dense or complicated for new readers. It has an aging fanbase tied to its continuity. It has undergone reboots. It has needed some vision which captures both the history of the main continuity but freshened up so new readers can enjoy the ride.

And somehow this new title seems to be doing just that.

This issue takes on one of the best parts of Legion's fandom ... the Legion Leader Election. As someone who once mailed in a vote for Wildfire, I can tell you, I love the election. So to see that brought back here made me smile.

The idea of a Superboy, a 21st century superheroic legend, joining the team to guide and learn, is old and new.

And the idea that the government that formed the Legion might be a little worried about them is also old (I see you Threeboot) and new as well.

Add to that Stephen Byrne's clean art, bringing a beautiful polish to the future, and you have another great installment in this title. His expressive work is stellar here. You need that sort of ability in a book where there are so many scenes of people talking. You need to help intuit their feelings.

Long Live the Legion! On to the book!