Monday, November 21, 2011

Dear Blog,

I apologize for neglecting you. The truth is, I may continue to neglect you for a while. It turns out that having a boyfriend is a lot more fun than having a blog.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

The New 52 Month Two: Analyzing My Digital Pull List

Now that Month Two of the New 52 is over, which means I've had a chance to read at least the first issue of every series I plan to, it seems like a good idea to step back and take a look at the whole thing. And because I'm that kind of geek, when I say "step back and take a look," I mean "bust out Excel and plug in data in an attempt to quantify everything." So that's what I did. I entered the ratings I gave each of the first and second issues, averaged, sorted, and analyzed. Here's what I came up with:

  • I read 33 of the 52 first issues.
    • 15 day-and-date
    • 18 a month later
  • My average rating overall: 3.4 out of 5 Pixels
    • For Day-and-Date titles: 3.6 Pixels
    • For A Month Late titles: 3.25 Pixels
  • My favorite series: Batman and Stormwatch, each with an average of 4.25 Pixels over two issues.
  • In danger of being dropped if they don't get better quickly: Swamp Thing, Blue Beetle, Red Hood & the Outlaws, each with only 2.5 Pixels for the first issue.
  • Demoted from Day-and-Date to A Month Late after the first issue: Red Hood & the Outlaws
  • Comics that most pleasantly surprised me: Superboy and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
  • Comics that most disappointed me: Justice League International, Blue Beetle, and Red Hood & the Outlaws (JLI got a little better with the second issue; here's hoping the others do as well)
  • Comic that made the most significant improvement between issue 1 and issue 2 (so far): Wonder Woman, from 3 to 4 Pixels
  • Writers I am totally digging: Paul Cornell, Scott Snyder (despite Swamp Thing not really being my thing yet), Jeff Lemire, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison (the last two are not new additions to this list as of the New 52, but the first three are)
  • Artists that are blowing my mind: J.H. Williams III, Francis Manapul.
  • Number one feel-good book: Batman & Robin
Overall, I'm enjoying this New 52 thing. Sure, there are a few mushy grapes in the bunch, but a good number of them are crisp and tasty.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Month Late and a Dollar Short: Savage Hawkman 1, Justice League Dark 1, Fury of Firestorm 1

Savage Hawkman 1
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pixels

One of the ten things Newsarama doesn't like about the New 52 is that a lot of titles feel like they're just retreading old ground. Savage Hawkman is not one of those titles. When I read on the first page that Carter Hall has been Hawkman in the past but is now trying to get away from it, I breathed a sigh of relief, because that meant I wasn't going to re-reading Hawkman's origin story, like I am in Supergirl and Blue Beetle, and because the idea of Carter Hall burning his Hawkman suit because he's trying to get away from the superhero life feels fresh to me. And then we find out that Carter is a cryptologist who specializes in alien artefacts, which is also new, and then we find out that the Nth metal has somehow bonded to Carter's body, refusing to let him get away from Hawkman, which is also new. The story itself didn't quite wow me--it was okay--but at least there are a lot of cool new ideas floating around here, so I'm thinking I'm going to like this series.

Justice League Dark 1
Rating: 3 out of 5 Pixels

This book had a few things going against it:

  1. The title sounds stupid.
  2. I don't care much about any of the main characters.
  3. I just don't get into magic stories.
  4. I generally don't like Peter Milligan as much as I think I should, and sometimes find his writing too confusing too enjoy. 
Given all that, I enjoyed this well enough. The team hasn't yet called itself "Justice League Dark" (but then the team hasn't formed yet), the characters are interesting enough to make up for the uninterestingness of magic, and the writing is easy enough to follow--I could tell who was who and what was happening at all times in the book. Still not a Wow, but I'll give it a few more issues.

Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men 1
Rating: 3 out of 5 Pixels

First, I have to say this title is too long. You can have "Fury of..." or you can have the subtitle, but you don't get to have both. Also, I felt pretty stupid when I first noticed about five months after the initial solicits were released that it says "Men" plural and not "Man."

Anyway. Even though this appears to be a hard reboot starting over with the character origin, it still feels fresh because it's doing something with the character that hasn't been done before--Jason and Ronnie as two separate Firestorms who then combine into a big ugly Firestorm. Also, we get the Firestorms of all Nations:
I'm pretty sure that's Firehawk with the blue wings, so we'll be seeing her again before long, and the guy on right looks like he could be Hotspot--perhaps he's the Firestorm of Africa in this International League of Heroes--and if we're going with existing characters as Firestorms around the world, then I'm betting that the Firestorm of Japan is Rising Sun. At any rate, this panel was a nice tease.

The main thing I do not like about this iteration of Firestorm is the ugly designs of the title characters. The strength of Firestorm's character, the thing that has made him endure over the years, is his unique, cool-looking design. The designs here for Ronniestorm (aka Firestorm Red) and Jasonstorm (aka Firestorm Yellow) are relatively bland and uninspired. And the big ugly combined Firestorm? He is big, and boy, is he ugly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day-And-Date: Teen Titans 2, Aquaman 2, Flash 2, Superman 2

Teen Titans 2
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pixels

I'm still digging this. Yes, they've thrown out previous continuity and yes, Bart and Cassie's personalities have been revamped, but goshdarnit, that's Tim Drake, without a doubt, and how can I not love a story about Tim Drake investigating a worldwide conspiracy and trying to save his fellow teen heroes? Also, we get confirmation this issue that there have in fact been Teen Titans before, contrary to what Bobbie Chase said at the New York Comic Con, but in line with what Scott Lobdell has said previously and with what Bette Kane said in Batwoman. Yay!

Aquaman 2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pixels

Continuing in the same vein as issue 1, this issue has people underestimating Aquaman and Aquaman being all badass to prove them wrong, but this issue also gives Mera a chance to be underestimated and to show off her badassedness in turn. Also, more of the creepy Trench creatures eating people. And lots of pretty pictures by Ivan Reis.

Flash 2
Creators: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pixels

While Ivan Reis does beautiful art in Aquaman, Francis Manapul does beautiful, mindblowing comics art in Flash. Manapul is pushing boundaries here, really experimenting with the art of telling stories through pictures. Brian Buccellato's colors play a big role too. Check out this page of Flash using the speed force to master "augmented cognition" and boost his brain to superhuman levels:
The inset panels show his mind flipping through different possible outcomes of the details he sees. Trippy stuff.

Superman 2
Writer: George Perez
Artist: Jesus Merino
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pixels

Lots and lots of words by George Perez, and pretty pictures by Jesus Merino, including a great rear shot of Superman:
I'm saving this just in case I ever start a blog called Superman Butt's Forever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Digital Horizons: Libraries, Vertigo, Marvel, IDW, and the New York Times

Apparently there was a panel at the New York Comic Con about digital comics and libraries. I want to know why I wasn't invited. C'mon, I have a blog about digital comics and a master of library science degree. Who better to lead that discussion? I'm offended and will henceforth boycott the New York Comic Con (not that I've ever gone before). Also, the article mentions Comixology as a digital comic provider that serves the library market. I haven't heard of this before and I wonder what kind of content they provide libraries--i.e. do libraries purchase single issues for their patrons to check out, or is there some kind of licensed package deal? Sadly, I don't see my local public library buying digital comics any time soon, as when I worked at the library five years ago trying to get them to embrace comic books as literature worth having in their collection was like trying to pull teeth. I can't imagine adding the digital aspect will make the art form seem any less ephemeral to them.

In the past couple of weeks both Marvel and IDW have announced deals with Comixology to release more of their digital content. My feelings about this news reflect my ongoing love/hate relationship with Comixology. On the one hand, I'm happy to know that when I get around to writing a Digiversity post here I'll have more options to choose from. On the other hand, I'm concerned by the prospect of Comixology's status as the primary source of digital comics being cemented even further. As I've said before, competition is necessary for the medium to grow, and I fear that if Comixology is the de facto monopoly when it comes to digital comics, they won't be forced to make improvements (and drop prices) in order to win customers.

Somehow I missed this in all the comics news that I read regularly, but Macworld notes that DC announced at the New York Comic Con that Vertigo titles will slowly be folded into the day-and-date digital release program. I've never gotten into any of the Vertigo titles I've tried out, but nonetheless I think it's cool. As with Marvel and IDW, more fodder for those future Digiversity posts.

The New York Times has an article about Barnes and Noble's boycott of DC titles in response to the Kindle Fire exclusive deal. This isn't really news anymore--I blogged about it two weeks ago--but I just think it's cool to see an article about my pet hobby in the New York Times. Kind of like seeing your ex-wife on Jeopardy. (Which, incidentally, also happened to me this past week.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Digital Video: Batman: The Brave & the Bold "Powerless"; Young Justice "Humanity"

Batman: The Brave & the Bold s3e9 "Powerless"
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pixels

This episode features the Batmen of All Nations, the Justice League International, Captain Atom doing G.I.Joe-style PSAs that lack only the "...and knowing is half the battle" line (but have an equally silly one in its place), and Aquaman spontaneously breaking into a musical number which he afterwards calls "Aquaman's Rousing Song of Heroism" and in which he appears as a couple dozen different superheroes, from Superman to Dr. Fate to Steel (the Detroit League version) to Black Canary. Yes, Aquaman as Black Canary.
Need I say more?

Young Justice s1e15 "Humanity"
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pixels

Just as this week's episode of Batman: The Brave & the Bold is that show doing what it does best, this week's episode of Young Justice also does what it does best. After cameos from Black Canary, Zatara, and Captain Marvel, the team goes hunting for their errant mentor Red Tornado, who it turns out has been reunited with the android family of Red Torpedo, Red Inferno, and Red Volcano, characters who I'm pretty sure were first introduced in some random Red Tornado miniseries a year or two back, and who in this incarnation have now been tied to the Justice Society and related Golden Age characters. The story ends up being the same as every other Red Tornado story ever, in that it's basically a Pinocchio story about a toy who wants to be a real boy, but I love that this one explicitly acknowledges that fact.

Also, this episode introduces Zatanna, who I absolutely love as a teen superhero (much more than I've ever cared for the character before). The dynamic immediately established between her and the other characters--especially Robin--is great, so I hope she becomes a frequently recurring character, if not a regular one. Eventually she puts on a standard Zatanna costume, but at first she shows up wearing a sort of Catholic schoolgirl outfit, which totally works for teenage Zatanna:

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Month Late and a Dollar Short: Supergirl 1, Birds of Prey 1, Blue Beetle 1, Legion of Superheroes 1, Captain Atom 1

Supergirl 1
Rating: 3 out of 5 Pixels

There's nothing bad about this comic except for that godawful costume, but at the same time there's nothing in this first issue that convinces me there was a reason the story of Supergirl first coming to Earth needed to be told yet again, just a few years after the last time. (The last time, by the way, is on sale for a buck an issue this weekend.) The only part of this issue that made me stop and say, "Hey, that's cool," is the moment when Kara first discovers her superhearing, and she hears lines of dialogue from other comic books:
One of my favorite things about comics is the shared universe aspect, so I get turned on by moments like this.

Birds of Prey 1
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pixels

Fun, fast-paced story with a cool premise--Black Canary has been framed for murder, so she has to lie low while still trying to do good. I like that Dinah is intentionally putting together a team simply because she wants to help people. It seems that superhero teams are more often thrown together against their will in order to battle some common threat, so it's nice to see a superhero being proactive about forming a team. Also, I'm glad that Barbara shows up, even briefly, and shows off her Oracle skills.

And in case you didn't believe me about Supergirl hearing lines of dialogue from other comics, here's one of those lines:

Blue Beetle 1
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Pixels

So, let's take a fan-favorite character who very recently had a critically-acclaimed series in which his origin was already told and then expounded upon, and reboot him completely, except let's not make any substantial changes--we'll just retell the same origin story, but watered down now and decompressed. And whereas the previous series was often laugh-out-loud hilarious, let's make this one just mildly humorous, but throw in a lot of Spanish words to give us diversity street-cred. And mems how one of the best parts about that series was the supporting cast? Let's keep that same cast, but mess with them unnecessarily, for example turning the goofy but lovable best friend into an annoying gangsta wannabe. Sound like a good idea?

Legion of Superheroes 1
Rating: 3 out of 5 Pixels

At least this first issue is a little more new-reader-friendly than Legion Lost 1 was--each of the characters gets a little caption intro blurb thingee, so I know who's who even though there are a bunch of new characters I haven't met before. Also, I dig that Mon-El is Legion leader, as hopefully that means he'll get a lot of screen time. (He's soooo dreamy.) I think I'll be completely immersed in this Legion within a couple of issues.

Captain Atom 1
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pixels

From the more godlike powers to the philosophical pondering to the more-blue-than-silver look, this is very much Captain Atom as Dr. Manhattan. Very appropriate, I'd say. (Now that would have been an interesting take on Blue Beetle--make him an out-of-shape, middle-aged man with an inferiority complex, struggling with impotence.) I was surprised to see that Freddie E. Williams II is inking himself here, as the style is very different from his previous art I've seen. I applaud him for experimenting with something new.