Monday, October 31, 2011

Paper Comics Walking DeadWatch

This weekend I was shocked as my Sister-in-law, who has not set foot in a comics shop in over 25 years, explained to me how the Comixology website works! Here's what the deal was:

She's been watching Walking Dead on TV
Gina (my wife) loaned her the first Walking Dead Graphic novel.
A friend on facebook (someone from her high school days who still reads comics) told her how to get more issues on Comixology

Since then she's bought over 80 issues of the series from the website and is currently caught up on the entire run.

AND because she was buying her comics from the site, she found out about the DC Relaunch and is now buying Aquaman, Justice League, Animal Man, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps.
She asked me to recommend some other titles, so I suggested Y, The Last Man and the new Wonder Woman.

I mention all this because whenever I post one of my sidewalk rants about how paper comics are going to practically disappear soon, my critics always like to counter by suggesting that the process will be a slow, steady decline which might take decades. What those naysayers always forget is that sometimes things happen, like a Walking Dead television show, that causes a huge tidal wave of interest in digital comics. These unexpected (by my critics at least) paradigm shifts in turn cause other jumps in the process (like DC making a Y, the Last Man movie) which perpetuates the accelerated decline.

That may seem like an awful lot to extrapolate from the random buying habits of my Sister-in-law, but as card games go, Marvel/Disney have yet to make a grand play, so let's keep watching.

With that, I present today's Halloween themed Free Comic:

Weird Terror!

- Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

High Rez Review | Daredevil

Today, Caine brings us another Hi Rez Review. This time of the first story arc of the newly relaunched Daredevil.

The man without fear (Daredevil) is bringing fun back.

Let me just get this out there: I wasn't a fan of the Bendis/Maleev 4 year run on Daredevil and I'm happy to say that Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera's run hits the ground running 180 degrees in the opposite direction story wise.

Mark Waid has done an excellent job of taking everything that's happened to Matt over the last six or eight years: quantified it; keeps what he likes; and respectfully leaves everything else alone like a sleeping junk yard dog.  Those story elements haven't been thrown away or removed from cannon they are just no longer the focus of the book and are clearly in Matt's (and the supporting characters) history.
The first issue opens up MacGyver style where Daredevil ends one mission and starts another as Matt Murdock in Matt's own corner of hell's kitchen: the court room.  He takes on the legal defense of an innocent man that only Matt believes to be innocent but he'll need more than Foggy Nelson and a good honest judge to prove it.  Don't forget the world still feels as if there may be some truth to the rumors that Matt Murdoc is Daredevil - who recently went insane and might be responsible for several deaths in the Shadowland incident.

Matt's powers and abilities as well as Matt's personality under the Daredevil mask, are put to good use in the story.  Mark Waid has re-established Matt as as solid individual dedicated to a mission.  Mark has captured a Matt Murdock that's not been seen for a decade or more, he's shed a lot of Matt's darker pshycological aspects (I don't want to label them as I've not read DD in a few years because of them).  There's a lot more dare than devil in DD these days.

While Mark has shed plenty of what's been done to Matt as of late, it's not been forgotten or dissapeared completely.  That would be cheating (like a reboot or relaunch of sorts huh DC?) so Mark embraces it and those elements serves to enhance the story.

The second issue (as well as the third) is structured very similarly to the first with Daredevil having to answer for his crimes of the past via a unique pop quiz delivered to him by another superhero and only once he's passed it (sort of) can he be allowed to move forward and continue with the legal case that consumes his mission for justice.  Let me just say that Mark Waid is the master of the one page character introduction and he uses the technique in all three issues.

While Daredevil is slightly put off guard at the start of the test he's not helpless and it doesn't take him long to figure out who's testing him.  It's a man in the Marvel Universe "with a heart beat like none other in the world". ~Mark Waid

Mark is able to use the test to share new aspects of both the characters and instantly remind us the reader that Daredevil has a large history of doing good in the Marvel Universe and is interconnected to several of the heroes of the even though he's never been a mainstay of any particular team book.

As the issue rounds out to the end Mark again finds a way to keep Daredevil of guard in a very unique fashion, if this keeps up I imagine it to being similar to Ron Marz's promise to never have Green Lantern craft the same thing twice while ring slinging.

This is an awesome scene, easily one of my favorites.
Once again as issue three opens the single page intro (or recap - or both) is used really well here.  Mark infuses a single page with enough dialogue to remind us of who Daredevil is, why hes currently in the perdicament he's in, how much history he has with the Marvel Universe, and how much lighter his outlook on life is now a days.

The true villain is finally revealed, and we the readers see how this villain's actions effect both the street crime Daredevil is dealing with as well as the court battle tangling up Matt and DD's lifes on all sides.

This issue has a lot more action in it.  The court room/ street battle ratio is flipped with issue three in that the street battle is favored and it's moved to the front of the book so that the court room can be in the back.  Like an ending of sorts.  A happy ending?  We'll you'll have to read it to find out.

I can't recommend this book enough.  It's a light read, but one not done in five minutes (I always hate that).  It's a fun read that will leave yo laughing.  It's an action packed adventure captured very effectively in 2d and not surprising it's just damn good.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kickstarting Comics

I am continually intrigued with Kickstarter, that site where people post details about an upcoming project (comic, movie, book, etc...) and implore strangers to contribute to the costs of the project in return for some a perk (your name in the credits, original artwork, ect...)

It sounds almost too good to be true. If you make your goal, you get your money. So, after months of begging your facebook friends to contribute, if you asked for $5000, and you end up with $8000, you're golden. Like the project by Travis Hanson who is working on a graphic novel called Travis the Bean which looks like the sort of thing I would really enjoy:

The flipside is if you don't meet your goal, the people who pledge don't get billed and you end up getting nothing. For contributors, it's sort of a no lose situation and I've contributed to quite a few projects myself. Still, there are plenty of projects that don't meet their goal. Like this one Pierre sent me via email. This guy was was trying to get a set of Bronze Age homage called Magnet Comics funded.

He was asking for about $20K and only got $637 (which because it was short, means he didn't get anything.)

I think the key is to set a low goal, but then if your goal is too low, how do you publish the project?
Anyone out there have any personal experience with Kickstarter? Either as a creator or a contributor?

Also, I'm not really interested in making paper comics or graphic novels, so I wonder if people contribute to digital comic projects? I'll have to search the site some more and see if I can't get some meaningful statistics.

- Jim

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marvel - All Winners or All Losers? case you haven't been following the comics news-a-net lately, Marvel seems to be showing signs of what I like to call, Ef Upedness lately. It's that point in a company's lifespan when you start to see the writing on the wall that indicates you need to get the hell out of there because it might not be around for long.

First, they have been laying off an alarming amount of staffers even after reporting a profit for this quarter.

Second, among the layoffs were employees in the Digital division? (Yeah, that's a smart place to trim, cuz that whole digital comic thing is just a fad.)

Third, and less harrowing, but still telling, they cancelled the All-Winners Band of Brothers mini-series in mid run

Over at, this commenter summed up my feelings pretty well:

Hawk_Fan Says:

I am annoyed by any of these titles being cancelled, but it doesn’t surprise me. The one that REALLY gets my goat though is ALL-WINNERS SQUAD: BAND OF HEROES There are 7000+ people that are reading that mini And enjoying it) with more waiting for the trade.

If Marvel cannot complete a commitment to the fans (they comitted to a mini-series, its not like anyone expected an on-going!) by producing just 8 issues then they should not be in business. I understand low sales causing an on-going (or what was thought to be up-graded to an on-going) to be cancelled but to canceo a mini-series is both lazy and un-professional.

As noted, there are 7000+ fans who want to see the story completed asnd, for a mini-series the sales figures have not been bad!

Now, I'll be honest, I wasn't buying All-Winners Squad because, well, y'know (Modern Comics Suxors) but I have to agree with Hawk_Fan. There is something particularly suspcious about Marvel pulling the rug out from under a mini-series that only had 3 more issues to go.

I've gone on record on the net several times about having my doubts with this whole Disney/Marvel thing. Disney just doesn't strike me as a company that see the value in owning a comic book company. Disney comics sell very well all across the world but even then, Disney just liscenses out the characters to other publishers. When I was a kid, I read Disney stories published in Gold Key Digests

More recently, Disney comics have been published by Gemstone and Boom! My daughter read the Fairies of Pixie Hollow published by PaperCutz

I know a creator who works on Disney comics who has told me face to face that Disney has no interest in the comic book business. And why should they? Disney makes more money off of Movies, Toys and Theme Parks than Marvel could ever imagine. A comic that sells 100K is a big deal to the comic world, but to Disney, that's not worth getting out of bed for.

So, at the end of the day, when Ike Perlmutter has to explain to his new bosses how Marvel missed their quarterly expectations, I can see how he might end the explanation with..."But we are looking for ways to trim costs..."

Perhaps I should start a Marvel Comics Deathwatch?

Anway, as far as All Winners Squad goes, none of the old Golden Age comics are in Public Domain, so for today's Free Comic, I present All Good Comics 04.

- Jim

Friday, October 21, 2011

DC Retroactive Sales

Because the internet issues, I have to post with my phone today, so this ain't gonna be pretty.

Last week Pierre sent me this email:

Hi Jim,

I just saw the sales on the Retroactive comics from DC at the Beat.

Guess DC won't publish any more of those. :(

DC RETROACTIVE: THE 70S 07/2011: Batman -- 14,340 07/2011:
The Flash -- 12,098 07/2011:
Wonder Woman -- 11,462 07/2011: Green Lantern -- 13,587 07/2011:
JLA -- 12,582 07/2011:
Superman -- 12,264

171/180/185/193/198/202 - DC RETROACTIVE: THE 80S 08/2011: Batman -- 12,534 08/2011:
The Flash -- 10,446 08/2011:
Wonder Woman -- 10,079 08/2011: Green Lantern -- 11,398 08/2011:
JLA -- 10,583 08/2011:
Superman -- 11,072

179/183/195/208/210/214 - DC RETROACTIVE: THE 90S 08/2011: Batman -- 11,609 08/2011:
The Flash -- 9,512 08/2011:
Wonder Woman -- 9,290 08/2011: Green Lantern -- 10,527 08/2011:
JLA -- 11,205 08/2011:
Superman -- 9,443

My Thoughts: This makes me a little sad, because I really enjoyed the Retroactive books, but  looking at the sales, I don't think DC is gonna try something like this in a while.

Which begs the question why didn't you do well? Was it retailers? Lack of marketing? Apathy from comic buyers? An unfortunate combination of all three?

I am going to place the bulk of the blame on retailers, because in my local comic shop most of these comics sold out. Marketing seems less guilty as generally the comics got a good bit written about them on the internet before they came out and then more buzz about them as they were reviewed by bloggers and podcasters. To me, this feels really feels like a case of retailers not gauging the audience very well.

As further proof, I would present the amount of reorders on the DC 52 which were all returnable. The fact that so many of those sold out multiple times shows retailers are just not paying attention.

Have a great weekend!

- Jim

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Games: The Last of the DC Universe

Today Pierre gives his review of the New Teen Titans Graphic Novel: Games

As the NEW DCnU started, I came to realise that we had not seen the LAST of the DCU yet. That there was still ONE DCU comic left. The NEW Teen Titans: Games Original Graphic Novel.

It was one of those happy accidents that are not really planned as such, but somehow that is how it happened. Games ended up being the very LAST comic set in the DCU (before Flashpoint).

I first became a fan of the New Teen Titans in 1984 when I bought the first issue of the series. It seems that the series in French was about 4 years behind the American version of the series. And I LOVED every seconds spent reading that first issue. Actually it was the first 2 issues since in French, the series was bi-monthly and we had 2 stories per issue.

Damn how that was good.

I loved all of the Titans characters. Other than Robin and Kid Flash, all the characters were new to me, but all of them were strong characters. There was no weak character in the bunch. So no wonder it was such a hit. Everything about that book was very strong. Although later I was not crazy about Wonder Girl becoming Troia, or the addition of Jericho or Danny Chase, it did not change the fact that the first 50 issues of the New Teen titans were one of the strongest run in DC history.

So like many others, I was thrilled to learn that there was still one hidden gem by Wolfman and Perez that we had not seen before. And although it got a few false starts, The NEW Teen Titans; Games OGN is finally here. And it is all kinds of AWESOME!!!

Heck even seeing Troia, Jericho and Danny Chase once more was fun, despite the fact that I never really cared for them. So can you imagine how FUN!!! It was to see the characters that I loved like Nightwing, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling, Raven and Donna Troy (yes I count her separately then Troia)??

It is difficult to describe the joy I felt to see those characters once more. It was not unlike when I read Formerly Known as Justice League, or more recently the Retroactive Justice League of America. It was like seeing old, dear friends that I had not seen for years.

It was so good, so sweet that words fail me (what can I say, I am not a word guy, that’s Jim’s job.  ;) ).

“Sweet” might be the wrong word, “Bittersweet” is actually more like it since as you read the tale in Games, you cannot help but think that this is IT! This is the last time that you not only read about those characters, but this is the very LAST time that you read a tale set in the DCU. This IS the end of the DCU. So even small moments like seeing Roy Harper as Speedy or Wally West as the Flash were charged with emotions that was not originally intended when this tale was first conceived. 

Was this book perfect?? No. Not even close.

The story was a bit of a mess. Heck I thought I had a copy where the pages were out of order since the story is all over the place. And once you read the behind the scene stuff, you quickly realise why. Wolfman and Perez did not have a clear idea themselves where they were going when they first started that tale. Perez started drawing the book when they did not even have finalised every point of their tale

And they later tried to fix the story multiple times, while trying to use as much of the artwork that George had already done. So it did create some confusion that is obvious while reading the story.

And the villains are pretty forgettable. And again, once you read the tale, you realise why. They needed villains that would appear in that story only. What you could call “one shot” villains, or disposable villains if you wish. So they created a bunch of villains that they needed to tell their story that we never saw before, and that would be dead by the end of the story. So they did not waste too much time creating the most awesome villains of the universe. They just created villains that would serve the story they wanted to tell.

And I am sure that many will poke fun at Nightwing with his “disco” collar (although I like that design myself).

And despite all those flaws, that comic stand above pretty much any comic on the stand right now. The artwork by Perez alone is worth the price of admission, but even with its flaws, the story is a fun and intriguing story.

And somehow, There seems to be little buzz online for that comic. I barely saw a few reviews, and did not see any reviews from some of the comic sites like ComicsBulletin or Newsarama. Heck even the DC message boards barely has a few comments for this comic.

Did it get lost/ignored amidst all that 52 craziness?? It breaks my little heart. If you are a Titan fan, or if you are a fan of good comics with strong storytelling, you must get yourself a copy of this comic. So unless DC decided to publish any more of their Retroactive comics, this is IT. This is the last DCU comics EVER.

Farewell DCU, We will miss you.  :(

- Pierre

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Curse of Shazam

It was announced this weekend at New York Comic Con that Geoff Johns will be writing a backup in the new Justice League omniously called The Curse of Shazam. which promises to reluanch the Golden Age Captain Marvel into the newly revamped DC Universe.

My initial reaction was a bit like this:

..but the more I thought about it, the more I'm convincing myself it might work.

Johns did a great job with the Billy Batson character in JSA. The scenes with Billy and Stargirl was some of the nicest teenage romance writing I've seen in DC comics in the last decade.

And while it is typical of fans of the Golden Age Captain Marvel Character to decry any take on the hero that doesn't smack of the lighthearted whimy from the bygone days (myself included) but in Alter Ego 75, noted Fawcett Historian PC Hamerlinck makes an impressive case for updating the character.

One of the accursed judgment calls from the early planning stages of the revival was that, instead of going with their initial gut instinct to develop an updated Captain Marvel for the modern 1970s audience— one that would fit snugly next to a Curt Swan Superman (“Make Way For Captain Thunder!” in Superman #276, June ’74, reveals that such an approach would have stood a good chance of succeeding)—DC chose instead to travel down memory lane. The nostalgia crowd was going to pull this book … so they thought … and hopefully grab new readers along the way with a funny, light derivative of the Captain. (The majority of readers at that time—small children to college students—had no idea what Shazam! meant or stood for.) The decision not to mature Cap after all those lost years, but rather to keep him as a throwback from another era, waiting to be plucked out of “suspended animation,” ultimately became the foundation that cemented a curse for
future generations.

The entire article is fantastic, so feel free to wander over to the Twomorrows website to pick up a copy (either in paper or in pdf format)

So, even if the mention of Geoff Johns' name does make me think of comics with people exsploding everywhere, I'm willing to give his new take a try. Even it if can't match the magic of the original Golden Age versions, it may be enjoyable.

With that, I present today's Free Comic - Marvel Family 45!


- Jim

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Relaunch of Paper Comic Deathwatch?

Some of you who started following this blog in the last year may not be aware of a series of articles had called Paper Comic Deathwatch. The idea was that on a semi weekly basis, Caine and I would examine trends in comics and computers/phones that we felt were leading to paper comics practically disappearing. At its peak, the series was one of our most popular, never failing to get links from other places. We even got a bitching logo for the series from Friend of Flashback Sean Kleefeld!

As a series, we had some predictions about the future of Digital Comics many of which have come true (most notably, the wild success of the iPad a year before it was even announced.) And the Decade Comics Went Digital Post has been used as a resource in several college classes I've been told (via email)

But we stopped using the Paper Comic Deathwatch moniker around January of 2010. Partly because I saw a lot of people not only jumping on the band wagon with similar themed articles, but because as the digital doomsday of comics began to creep closer and closer, what had started out as a fun, tongue in cheek series meant to goad companies into embracing digital distribution was becoming more and more like slowing down to view a car accident on the highway.

It's one thing to suggest that all books and comics will one day go digital without worrying about the implications of that reality. It's another to see struggling retailers and book dealers in a life or death struggle against juggernauts like Apple and Amazon.

Case in point: Borders has now joined Barnes and Nobles in pulling 100 of DC's Most popular graphic novels from its shelves. 

This is all due to Amazon cutting an exclusive content deal to distribute with DC for the exclusive rights to certain graphic novels in digital format.

Let's evaluate that - the two largest book chains are concerned not because DC is exclusively selling all paper books through Amazon, but digital books. And to protest the point, both companies (who aren't doing great sales wise or in the stock market) are going to stop selling said books in a medium that is completely different!

That strikes me as very foolish. My heart goes out to people working for both booksellers. I don't think your proprietors are using best judgement in a time when they should be stepping carefully.

Have a great weekend.

- Jim

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flashback Five on The Aquaman Relaunch

Welcome back to FB5! Last time Matt broke away from the usual "flashback" part of FB5 to bring you a review of The Flash no. 1 from the nu 52 line-up. Now we're going to dive right in to part 2 with a look at Aquaman no. 1!

You know, while I never considered Aquaman to be the coolest of superheroes, I never thought he was this ultimate example lame that everybody seems to really get off on making him out to be. Nor did he really need a lot things to compensate for that in order to make him more "bad ass". Honestly, I prefer him to a jerk like Namor and when Aquaman dropped a whale on the head of "Imprerius Rex", I laughed out loud. If Aquaman had been in his classic costume when it happened, it would have been a perfect moment. Anyway, let's dive into 5 things I liked about Aquaman no.1!

1. The opening sequence. 

Aquaman flipping a truck with crooks making a get-away over his head using his trident is an idea for an action moment so simple yet so cool I really have to wonder why nobody else on an Aquaman book ever attempted it.

2. Ivan Reis. You know, I think Reis might be a better fit for Aquaman than Green Lantern. Something about Reis's style just really brings out the character and his costume. Speaking of his costume out all the pop-collar brigade I think Aquaman is the only hero it really even works for.

Perhaps because aside from the pop-collar no other elements of his look have been screwed with. Just continuing the gold scales up to his neck actually kind of works.

3. The restaurant scene.

I usually do not enjoy a lot of aggressive "meta" going on in comics. One of the many reasons that doesn't appeal to me at all is because it leads to characters in the story world reacting to the fantastic things they encounter like fans sitting around talking on a message board about comics instead of people who are living these events. However, in the instance of this issue I can forgive it because I actually found myself enjoying how it directly tackles all the various pre-conceived notions about Aquaman and lets the character himself answer them. I even liked the biology babble explanation of how the whole "talking to fish" thing actually works. (Hint: Fish can't talk.)

4. The good Geoff Johns is in attendance. The bad Geoff Johns isn't...yet. I'm not a fan of Johns and the reason why is that I've often felt there are two Geoff Johns. One who is a sincere DC superhero fan that has a lot of genuine love for those characters. Then there's this other Geoff Johns who seems like a 14 year-old hyperactive horror movie fan that has decided he wants everything to be blood and gore like a Hellraiser movie regardless of genre or context. Sometimes you get one or the other, or you get both even within the span of a single issue. This time out though, it seems like the good Geoff sent bad Geoff to go get coffee while he wrote the script for the issue. My only quibble is Aquaman having angst about being king and not wanting to go back to Atlantis but I have to wonder if that has something to do with events that will be revealed later on that would have it make a bit more sense.

The issue ends with a shot of an evil humanoid shark creature emerging out of the water and the more skeptical part of me has the sneaking feel that issue 2 is where bad Geoff will show up and the opening page will be an on-camera spread of the creature gnawing on entrails or something.

5. Cover logo. 

Okay, it's just a logo. But We were talking in the comments to another article about how bland a lot of the new 52 logos looked, but I thought this was one of the better ones. Not as good as Aquaman's classic title logo I like that this still has his A symbol and it's not just letters floating sideways looking like they are being sucked up by the top right hand corner of the book.

I think the thing that really strikes me about both of this and The Flash no.1 is that neither of them are making apologies for the character and I can't help but feel so many other books in the 52 line-up basically are on one level or another. Both of these books without gratuity or gimmicks are doing their best to showcase why these characters are cool, making them look good in process with some really appealing superhero artwork. I really wish more of this relaunch was akin to these two issues.

- Matt

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Return (Again) of the MLJ Heroes

Sunday at The New York Times broke the news that Archie Comics is going to return to publishing their own Superhero.

From the NY Times:

In spring, the company will bring back its line of superhero characters in a subscription model that will offer an original six-page story and access to an archive of past adventures....

...Besides the possibility of reaching an audience beyond the comic book stores, there was a second advantage to this digital model. “Financially, it makes sense,” Mr. Goldwater [the co-chief executive of Archie Comics Publications] said. “We are not going to have any print costs. To be a slave to printing prices when you’re starting a new venture is a tremendous concern.”

For those of you new to old comics, this would be the a lot of the old MLJ heroes (Black Hood, The Shield, The Hangman) as well as some of the characters introduced by MLJ in the Silver Age (The Fly, Jaguar, etc..)

While I have some fond memories of reading Jack Kirby's Fly in the old Archie Digests I used to pick up as a kid, I don't have high hopes for this forthcoming incarnation. Mostly because this group of characters has been relaunched several times recently - most notably with the !mpact line at DC in the 90's

and just a year ago at DC

I have to think the dismal sales on this last relaunch is part of the reason that Archie is going with a Digital Subscription sales strategy with this new effort. Not sure how that subscription thing will work out for them, but it does sound like it might be a cheaper way to get access to a huge library of old comics. The only caveat is comic fans tend to like to own what they read.

Archie’s latest digital initiative will be similar to Netflix, Mr. Goldwater said. “It will be a nominal monthly charge with access to new comics and thousands and thousands of pages from the archive.”

What I think is interesting is that more and more, we are reading about small publishers who are going ONLY with digital sales. (Slave Labor Graphics just made the same switch.)

Which begs the question - which of the Front of Previews crowd (Boom, Dark Horse, Dynamite, DC, IDW or Marvel) would you pick as the first to also quit with the Paper Comics?)

Anyway, since this news is a bit of a repeat, I'm going to repeat today's Free Comic with this reposting of Pep Comics 1 


- Jim

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday's Post will be late

There comes that time when you realize you ain't gonna make your post deadline.
For me, that time is today.

I'll have a full post up tomorrow.

- Jim

Friday, October 7, 2011

High Rez Review | Teen Titans #1

Today, Caine brings us another Hi Rez Review. This time of the newly relaunched Teen Titans.

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils/Cover by: Brett Booth
Inks by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Andrew Dalhouse

Tim Drake, Batman's former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization seeks to capture, kill or co-opt super-powered teenagers.

As Red Robin, he's going to have to team up with the mysterious and belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and the hyperactive speedster calling himself Kid Flash to stand any chance at all against a living, breathing weapon with roots in another world! They – along with a few other tortured teen heroes – will be the Teen Titans

With Lobdell, Booth, and Rapmund on this book together you might think you'd been transported back to the nineties and were reading a WildStorm book (scary for some, as that decade represents a period of time where many stopped reading comics all together - that is also the last decade that the "definitive" Titans book/run was published) and I loved every single panel of it!  This book is definitely going on my "alert list" (what people used to call "pull lists" before iPads) so I'm sure not to miss an issue!

I'm saddened to report that the book does suffer from the obvious editorial mandate to use the first issue to introduce the most prominent characters via narrative text boxes.  It gives the book a very generic feel as if we really haven't delved into the story much at all.

Also, this means that we have yet to be introduced to any of the new and unique characters that will be on the team yet which is a shame.  Finally it suffers from how they introduce the boy of steel.  I don't want to give anything away but let's just say they aren't doing the character justice with his cloned introduction.

I'm happy to report that this book does shine.  This is clearly Tim Drakes book.  DC had stated that all of the "Robins" (though they clearly didn't include Stephanie) will have a prominent role in a comic book series and TEEN TITANS was really late on their press release style list of books announced (they were announcing a couple books a week in the beginning) in the DCnU.  Current Tim Drake fans were up in arms for weeks but they should all be fine now.

The artwork is very well situated to the storytelling and the colors chosen for the characters really do well to keep them separate and easily identified.  Each character's look has been updated, and not just for style purposes either but utilitarian purposes have been taken into account with the designs.

Tim is the strong leader (or will be).  Bart is the impulsive one (or at least I assume it's Bart).  Cassie is strong yet unsure and Conner is very young, the member with the most power and the least experience.  All of the pieces are there for great stories for titans fans of (hopefully every era).

DC recently redesigned it's iPad app from the ground up.  The different sections have been broadened and restructured to be much more user friendly.  If you've been debating going digital there's never been a better time.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flasback Five on the Relaunched Flash

Today Matt gives his thoughts on why he likes the relaunched Flash!

Anyone who knows my writing on the blog has a pretty good idea that I do not have a lot of love left for what currently passes for DC Comics, which I usually refer to as Didio Comics. For all the hype and praises of the relaunch I have remained unimpressed. However, now I'm actually glad to say that I have found at least two notable exceptions to what has so far seemed to be for the most part little more than yet another round of eye-rolling attempts at being "edgy". These comics have stood out to me because these first issues did NOT do that. What I feel they did instead was to present a cool superhero character doing awesome things with some good looking art held together with a solid story to make you curious what happens next issue. Unlike so many others in the line they feel more like superhero comics. Not horror movies. Not thinly veiled porn. Not "reality" TV. Not a storyboard pitch for the movie.

So I'm breaking the actual "flashback" part of FB5 just this once to give you five things I liked about The Flash no.1!

I have to admit that when it comes to the Flash I'm more of a Wally West guy. But that is not at the expense of Barry Allen or any kind of real disdain for him. But I did enjoy that he got to die a hero in an ultimate heroic act and that we were following a character who was inheriting that mantle from him, both living the promise and shouldering the burden of what it meant to bear the name. But I think I can say that with the new Flash no.1 even if you don't consider yourself a Barry Allen fan this is just might be a good time to give the guy another chance even if you miss Wally.

1. Francis Manapul. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Manapul might be one of the best artists to fit the character since the late Mike Weringo.

That might seem like an odd choice given the watercolor look to his art but there's an energy to his pages that I feel captures the feel of speed and draws you into the Flash's world. I think he even manages to make the Jim Lee redesign of the costume work. Granted the bulk of the changes are basically the requisite gratuitous seams, raised emblem, and chinder-wear (you MST3K fans know what I mean by that). Kind of makes me wonder how the rest of the heroes would have looked if the changes had been reeled in to just touch ups and tweaks. I do like that Manapul makes the seams glow and become one with the speed effects coming off his lighting bolt and trim.

2. The title page. There's a cool retro vibe to this that I really love.

The Flash's running pose is awesome and I love how the text and images are bursting out around him. A really nice piece of graphic design that kicks the issue off well. I think it would make a great poster!
3. The suiting-up page. You know, I've never actually enjoyed the whole thing of the Flash costume coming out of a ring.

Having it be a ring just played a little too close to Green Lantern for me plus I just kind of thought the wrinkly suit wobbling out of it looked a bit too silly. However, one of the things that I love in superheroes is the idea of transformation. Whether it's something as simple as Clark Kent's shirt-rip or the awesome henshin effects of Japanese superheroes like Kamen Rider, I love those moments where the seemingly ordinary person summons, puts-on, or reveals their extraordinary form. Their hero form. The series of panels where Barry suits-up is that kind of moment and it rocks!

4. The story. While the story is not the Earth-shattering event of the century I thought it was a solid start that does a great job of establishing who Barry Allen is without even losing the pace of the book. You're brought into Barry's everyday life and then he's thrown in into his latest case all the while the issue showcases The Flash in action and ending on a cliffhanger that makes you want to find out what happens next but at the same time the issue is a solid unit unto itself. It doesn't feel like the first ten minutes of a movie that you're being told you have to come back next month to see the next 10 minutes of.

5. The colors. One of the many things that puts me off a lot of current books is the constant use of muted color schemes. Whether it's toning the costume colors way down or having the story exist in this endless sea of greys and browns, or every daytime scene feeling like it's happening at sunset. In other words, I like seeing superhero comic books that aren't ashamed of vibrant colors. I feel the coloring for this issue conveyed the intent of the story being told while still having enough pop to them to fit a superhero comic.

Next Time: Grab your scuba gear because we're diving into the second part of this 52 review: Aquaman no.1!

- Matt

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Study in Scarlet

From Bleeding Cool comes the news that Marvel is going to introduce a new Scarlet Spider character in a story that dares readers to guess his true identity!

Y'know, as much as I love me some mystery stories, sometime Flashback contributor Trey Causey and I were wondering why is it that comics seem to only tell the same type of mystery?

Who is this mystery character?
I can understand wrestling using that worn out plot device because there ain't a lot of time to spend on narrative in wrestling, but comics should be different, right?

Still, more and more, we are treated to a new spin of the Who is Ronin!? type of storyline. Say what you will about Identity Crisis, but at least Brad Metzer took a different tack with his mystery. (Albeit, his resolution was utterly ridiculous.)

What's sad is that the original Scarlet Spider/Ben Reily storyline had a lot of real mystery to it back in the nineties other than who the character was. (At the time, we all knew it was the clone from Spider-man 149)

The reasons the original return to the Clone Saga storyline overstayed its welcome have been WELL documented at Still, that saga still has its fans and this return to the well may draw some of them in to see if Ben Reilly is returning to Marvel continuity. I just have to wonder if in a comic universe where there are now multiple Spider-girls, Ultimate Spider-men and Spider-women, will a Scarlet Spider story be just more noise on the wire?

I think the real mystery here is going to be what is Marvel going to do next to try and pull readers in when a mystery character in a hoodie doesn't work?

With that, enjoy today's appropriate Free Comic: Sherlock Holmes from Charlton Comics.
[ Sherlock Holmes 1 ]


- Jim


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