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Tag: The Flash

DC New 52, 4th Wave, Pt. 1: Aquaman, Flash, Superman outshine the rest

The finish line is in sight for DC’s New 52. Look for a post that kind of sums up a take on the overall project in the next day or so. Obviously, it’s been a big hit for DC, which announced yesterday that all 52 books have sold out of their first printings and going back to press. Three titles have shipped 200,000 or more and eight more have shipped more than 100,000. That’s a huge boost for the direct market, where the 100k mark has been a tough one for any book to crack.

I still have a few books in the final batch to read, but in the meantime, here’s my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far.

There should be more books like Aquaman #1, which I found to be a very entertaining and action-packed comic book. This is another very slick entry, with some terrific artwork from Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. Writer Geoff Johns tries very hard to make Aquaman a convincing action hero and mostly succeeds. I expected that having everyone think of him as a joke would not work at all, but it turned out to be fairly amusing in the end. I also think it’s funny that the logo imitates the one invented for the fake Aquaman movie from the Entourage TV show. At the very least, this is the best Aquaman comic in a long time, if not ever. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a significant achievement or not.

Next is yet another The Flash #1, this one from co-writer and artist Francis Manapul and co-writer Brian Buccellato. This was much improved from the rather ponderous take Johns had on the character in the previous reboot, or even the previous short-lived version before that I have trouble remembering anything about at this point. I found this to be a solid, nice-looking Flash comic. It doesn’t invent the wheel, but it’s pretty much spot on for what an average issue of this title should read like. If Manapul can keep it up, will be a consistently entertaining title.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1 appears to be a full reboot of the character, and is a straight-forward origin story that shows how the Firestorms got their powers and introduces a big, scary villain for them to fight in the next issue. We meet Ronnie Raymond, star high school quarterback, and Jason Rusch, student journalist. They clash and very quickly develop a dislike of each other — so of course they are bound together as the new Firestorms. The art by Yildiray Cinar has a slightly funky, retro feel to it that, combined with the very traditional origin story, makes this a bit of a throwback. It’s not bad, but nothing about this is interesting enough to make me stick around for another issue.

I’ve enjoyed the occasional issue of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Jonah Hex series, though I was not a regular reader of that series. They continue with the re-titled All-Star Western, which brings Hex into the new local of Old West Gotham City. That means there’s folks like Amadeus Arkham around as Hex investigates a gruesome crime of a more urban nature as a kind of a proto-Batman. The art by Moritat, who drew some great issues of Elephantmen, is muddied by a dull, overwhelming color palette. To be honest, I preferred the previous take on Jonah Hex, and the changes that seem to by trying to make this more interesting to superhero fans only make it less so.

Blackhawks #1 feels like it was created about 1995 for WildStorm and somehow never saw print until now. That means it’s sometimes a confusing book, but the crazy energy and slick art carry it through the rough patches. This is a new take on the Blackhawk concept, with the team now being some kind of super-secret government strike team. The plot part is the confusing part, so I’ll just skip over it and talk about the cool art, which has Graham Nolan of 1980s Detective Comics on layouts and Ken Lashley on finishes. Beyond that, I can’t really cite any specific reasons for liking this, so maybe it’s just a bit of nostalgia for those old-time ’90s comic books. I’ll give it another shot.

I didn’t know what to expect from Green Lantern: New Guardians #1, but went in with some trepidation because the cover includes one member from all the different-colored Lantern Corps and therefore be related in some way to the confusing Blackest Night and Brightest Day storylines. That was not the case here, which is a full reboot and retelling of the origin for the Kyle Rayner version of Green Lantern. This book also is an assembling of the heroes, as we meet the other six Lantern folks who will come together to join the New Guardians. This works better as a single issue than most attempts at this type of story, but it still feels like a tertiary book in the Green Lantern franchise.

I will be very interested to see what other folks think of Superman #1, which I thought was a terrific comic book. Written and with layouts by George Perez and finishes by Jesus Merino, this is an action-packed superhero book in the best 1980s tradition. There’s a lot going on in this book, both with Superman and the world he lives in. It may not all make perfect sense, but there is an admirable economy this story as it introduces so many characters, concepts and tweaks to Superman lore while also giving some crazy old-school action. I expect some will find it overwritten and cluttered, but I prefer a comic that throws a lot at the reader and picks up the pieces that work later on to the  decompressed storytelling of recent years. I’ll definitely stick with this one.

Only six more first issues to go …

Flashpoint vs. Fear Itself: A Much-Needed Win (So Far) for DC

Flashpoint #1

Like most comics readers, I’m getting weary of big events. And the promotional materials for Flashpoint did absolutely nothing to interest me in this series. I’ve never been a big fan of The Flash, the premise of the crossover was, at best, murky, and the sheer number of spinoff miniseries and specials was disheartening.

But I have to admit that when I sat down and read Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, 40 pages, color, $3.99), I really enjoyed it. (Full disclosure: DC’s publicity folks sent me a copy.) And having found little to enjoy in the DC Universe of late, it was nice to find an enjoyable way back in.

I can’t deny that there’s a weird bit of nostalgia at work. This is an alternate universe crossover, with cool art by Andy Kubert and Bob Harras at the helm. It’s like a flashback to 1995 and the Age of Apocalypse, which was easily the most fun crossovers of this type and an archetype for Flashpoint. I doubt I’ll pick up many of the spinoffs, but I will definitely be back for Flashpoint #2.

Fear Itself #2

The other major summer event is Marvel’s Fear Itself. Again, thanks to event fatigue, I hadn’t paid much attention to the advance marketing on this book. This is a nice-looking book, with Fear Itself #1 and #2 (Marvel, color, $3.99 each) showing the Asgardians returning to Asgard, Odin being a jerk to Thor and a bunch of mystic hammers falling to Earth and empowering those who pick them up with the power to glow like Tron.

It’s OK, though my first thought was I’d already seen this kind of thing in Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s  JLA-Avengers crossover a few years back and even in last year’s Blackest Night. It also just feels more like a concept suited to a Marvel videogame than a major summer crossover, but that’s likely just me. This isn’t to say that Fear Itself is bad or that Flashpoint is good, but it is interesting how it’s the intangibles that make one stand out — even if just slightly and for a moment — over another.

Goyer says WB has a lot of DC movies “on hold”

In an interview with IESB, writer-director David Goyer says all the DC Comics adaptations he’s working on — including “Supermax/Green Arrow” and “The Flash” — are treading water while the studio decides the best way to handle such movies:

“A lot of the DC movies at Warner Brothers are all on hold while the figure out, they’re going to come up with some new plan, methodology, things like that so everything has just been pressed pause on at the moment. It was the double header of both Iron Man and The Dark Knight coming out, so more than ever I think they’ve realized, I think DC was responsible for 15% of Warner Brother’s revenue this year, something crazy like that, so they realized that comic books, it’s become a new genre, one of the most successful genres.”

It’s gratifying to see the success of “Dark Knight” linked back to DC, but I still think this is the wrong approach for Warners to take. Developing big strategic plans like that is difficult, time consuming and tends to create more problems than it solves — if a plan agreeable to all parties is even worked out. They have to not be afraid to pull the trigger and risk making mistakes. Marvel’s already gone through that phase — “Daredevil,” “Elektra,” “Fantastic Four,” “Hulk” — and have come out on the other side better for it. I really wish that, especially with the likes of “Green Arrow” and “Flash,” that the studio would hire an up-and-coming director with a good take on the material, give him anywhere between $80 million and $100 million to make the pic, and then get out of the way.

Comic du jour: The Flash #309 (May 1982)

First in what I intend to be a regular series looking at various individual comics of yesterday and today.

This is a pretty typical comic from a period not remembered as especially good for B- and C-list titles. Still, there’s almost always an element of charm to be found in such comics — and this is no exception.

Written by DC workhorse Cary Bates, the story involves an alien who comes back in time from a future in which the superheroes have become legends. Pleased to find the heroes really did exist, he kidnaps Flash and attempts to extract his speed energy by force. Flash escapes and, during a mind-link, learns the alien has the best of intentions — he needs the power to save his world from an alien threat. So Flash takes him back in time a bit further to the day he got his powers so the chemical soup Barry Allen was doused with could be analyzed and duplicated on the alien. The alien gets the Flash’s powers and goes back to his time to fight the alien. Flash tags along to make sure everything goes OK, but the monster is too tough, forcing the alien Flash to sacrifice his life to stop it. In the process, he resparks interest in the ancient superheroes and Flash goes back to his own time.

Carmine Infantino does the pencils on this issue and give it that special flair only he can deliver. As a kid, I didn’t like Infantino’s art on the “Star Wars” series because it didn’t capture the likenesses of the actors very well. But I came around on that, thanks to Infantino’s graceful and unique artistic talents. A lot of Infantinoisms are on display in this issue, too, from the design of the alien space ship, to his inimitable faces peeking out from the hyper-sketchy speed lines, the soft features of the alien’s face, and of course the Infantino hands! There are some drawbacks too: The unfortunately phallic imagery of the cover (duck, Barry!); a story told almost completely in thought balloons and the occasionally excessive looseness of the art.

Then there’s the backup feature, an 8-page Dr. Fate story written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt. This feels like the last of several parts, and I was pretty much lost as to what was going on. But Giffen showed his chops on the art, which was polished, compelling and fresh in the way that a lot of stuff from this era seemed at the time. I also love the use of color holds — line art printed using only the red, blue or yellow plate — to create a unique look that’s both archaic and still pretty cool even by today’s standards.

As always, there’s plenty of interesting ephemera in an old comic: The inside front cover ad for the first “Swamp Thing” movie; house ads for the debut of new series Saga of the Swamp Thing and Firestorm; and a letters page with a rare DC statement of ownership that puts The Flash’s 1981 average paid circulation at 92,151 copies — good enough for a top ten ranging in the direct market these days.

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