Sunday, April 02, 2006

One Month Later...

Well, the first month of One Year Later releases is done (okay, except for the delayed Teen Titans, which is rumored to be tied in to the events of the delayed Infinite Crisis #6 and Supergirl, which is in scheduling heck), so I think it'd be nice to grade the month.

Let's begin!!

Okay, I'm going with four categories - Recommended Without Reservation, Recommended With Reservaions, Not Recommended and Recommended That You Don't Buy It. In addition, for each issue, I'm giving a one sentence Plot Synopsis and a Review, along with a "Jump-On Factor," which judges an issue on how well it works for someone who just started reading the book. A 10 would mean it was highly accessible, while a 1 would mean, if you didn't read the previous issues, you'd be completely lost.

Recommended Without Reservations!

Robin #148

Plot Synopsis: An old foe is killed by perhaps an old ally, and Robin is framed for the murder!

Jump-On Factor: 7

Review: The only knock on this issue for Jump-On Factor is a fairly significant one, as the bad guy in the comic is a longtime Batman ally, Cassandra Cain, the former Batgirl. Knowing who she is gives the story a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT more depth. Writer Adam Beechen tries his best to fill you in on what you're missing (in particular, a great scene where Batman shows that he knows that Robin COULDN'T have done the crime he was accused of, killing Batgirl, because Batman knows Robin couldn't BEAT Batgirl - classic scene), but knowing the backstory would help a LOT.

Adam Beechen has been knocking the ball out of the park with his comic book stories based on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, and he doesn't miss a beat moving on to Robin, with this very interesting issue with a great premise/hook - Robin is wanted for the murder of Batgirl - but Robin knows that the woman dressed up as Batgirl ISN'T Batgirl, but rather, a former nemesis of his, Lynx. Meanwhile, he wants to find Cassie Cain, who was Batgirl, but what Robin doesn't know is that it is most likely that it is Cain, now driven mad, who has framed him for the murder of Batgirl.

It's an interesting game of cat and mouse, and Beechen handles it quite well.

Meanwhile, in a bit of downer news, the great art in this issue by Karl Kerschl will not continue, as a new penciller will pick up next issue - but this issue was great!

Batman is used well in the comic as well. Just a great issue. Quite probably the best single issue on the book since Dixon was writing it.

Recommended With Reservations

Birds of Prey #92

Plot Synopsis: The Birds of Prey try to bring over a Society traitor while former team member Black Canary begins new training.

Jump-On Factor: 3

Review: Here are the reservations:

1. Killer Croc does not exactly have a long history (only 25 years or so), but Paulo Siqueira's depiction of Croc has got to be the worst version I have ever seen. It is like no one gave him any reference material, so he just made up a character on his own. Besides Croc, though, Siqueira really isn't that bad. I am just exagerrating for effect. For most of the issue, he gets the job done. He isn't HELPING the book, but he also isn't actively HURTING the book.

2. This really isn't a Jump-On issue. There are certain moments where the book seems like it is TRYING to be, so I will give it credit for trying, but for the most part, like Catwoman, this comic seems to just be continuing the storylines that the book was dealing with pre-One Year Later.

Okay, those are the two reservations - Not great art and not a jumping on point.

Besides that, I found this to be an enjoyable, action-packed story with a lot of great dialogue, and a clever use of Lady Shiva (who steals the issue as, I am sure, was expected). In fact, the basic concept of the Birds of Prey facilitating a member of the Society changing sides is quite interesting, and makes for a great premise.

I like Gypsy, so I liked her cameo.

Meanwhile, Black Canary is undergoing training a la Lady Shiva, and that was interesting as well.
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Action Comics #837

Plot Synopsis: Clark continues being a hero, even as a non-powered reporter, with assists from some very Johnsian guest-stars

Jump-On Factor: 9

Review: I liked this issue a good deal more than the first part of the story, because there was a lot more going on, as Clark actually, you know, DID stuff in this issue, as compared to the previous part of the story.

The art from Pete Woods, as usual, is amazing.

The only drawbacks to this story, as far as I saw it, was that the superhero guest-stars really seemed out of place in the comic. I think the whole "Clark is a hero even without powers" motif would be a lot better expressed if he was not hanging out with superheroes all the time! Yes, Hal had to be there for the ending, which WAS pretty interesting, but really, I think a full issue of Clark doing action reporting would be more interesting than what we ended up.

Still, I would recommend this issue, as it has some good Clark action scenes, plus some really good work with Luthor (and a new Toyman!).
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JSA Classified #10

Plot Synopsis: Vandal Savage deals with the fact that his life is soon going to end, leaving him time for just one act of revenge.

Jump-On Factor: 4

Review: Here are the two reservations:

1. The story is about Vandal Savage.

2. Paul Gulacy's art is not that great

Besides that, Stuart Moore writes a very well-crafted story about Vandal Savage finding out that he is dying, and when all his avenues to resolve this situation run out, he knows he can only revenge himself upon one enemy - and he chooses Alan Scott.

First off, what a cool moment that is!!! Choosing one enemy to revenge yourself on before you die - that's a classic concept. Great job by Moore.

Meanwhile, though, Moore fills the issue with scenes from Vandal's past mixed with scenes of Vandal's present, showing where he came from, and how he is likely to handle his current situation.

I am no Vandal Savage fan, but I would actually recommend this tale.
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Manhunter #20

Plot Synopsis: Kate has grown into her role as a vigilante, but finds herself at odds with her new legal assignment

Jump-On Factor: 2

Review: Of all the books that could use a Jump-On Point, you'd think Manhunter would be one of them, as it does not sell all that well. That's why it is particularly galling that this issue doesn't really have a glimmer of a hint of a jump-on factor to it. The ENTIRE issue is WHOLLY dependent upon you being a regular reader of Manhunter!!

How just patently silly is that?!?!

In fact, it's so irritating that I considered putting this into the Not Recommended section, even though it was a well-told story with very nice art, but then I realized that about the only thing this book had going for it IS people recommending it, so I figured I'd put it here. But please note that I am highly disappointed in Marc Andreyko not making this a good jump-on point. The whole book is Easter Eggs for current readers of Manhunter. While, as a current reader of Manhunter, I appreciate them, I just don't think it was the right way to handle this.

ANYhoo, the comic is well-written, as Andreyko fits in a lot of characters and a lot of plot all into one issue, and makes sure to fit some action in, as well. Meanwhile, there are plenty of nice character bits and a great twist at the end (which is not THAT much of a twist with the cover as it is).

Javier Pina's art, by the way, continues to grow. He had some big shoes to fill when he replaced one of the best artists DC has, Jesus Saiz, but Pina has really come into his own as of late, and this issue is a great example of this - very nice artwork from Pina.

So, people, support this book!

Not Recommended

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #16

Plot Synopsis: The team deals with their new status while a strange visitor shows up.

Jump-On Factor: 4

Review: The only reason this issue, which literally is just a continuation of the previous issue, is ranked THAT high on Jump-On Factor is because I think Mark Waid did a very nice job making the issue seem accessible (as much as he could, that is).

Early on in the issue, though, Waid continues with one of the main themes of this book, and it's a really weird main theme - which is that adults are assholes. And not just assholes, but assholes for, like, no reason. Cruella De Vil had better motivation that some of the adults in this title.

I have to say, I am enjoying Mick Gray's inks on Barry Kitson's pencils. Takes some of the sharpness off the pencils. It's a good look.

Anyhow, one of the best attributes of Legion is the inter-relations between the characters, and there is a good deal of that in this issue, as the group deals with the agreement Lightning Lad made last issue (making the Legion part of the United Planets). Meanwhile, a mysterious comet is approaching Earth, and the Legion is ready to defend against it!!

Obviously, the comet somehow involves Supergirl, and her intro was pretty cute. And the end cliffhanger was interesting, to say the least.

Pretty good issue. Just THIS shy of being recommended.
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Green Lantern #10

Plot Synopsis: Hal Jordan deals with the new international rules about super-powered activity, while also facing demons from his past.

Jump-On Factor: 5

Review: This was probably the most interesting issue of Johns' Green Lantern run so far, and, for the most part, I found this to be a pretty engaging issue.

Johns uses a lot of concepts at once, which is interesting, as he usually tends to dwell on one or two concepts for a longer period of time (with the notable exception of Infinite Crisis), so I was pleased to see him throw a lot of cool stuff at the readers right off the bat, especially the Sinestro Corps. That's just brilliant!

Also, the whole "Hal not using his ring while he flies biting him in the ass" bit was clever.

However, I think the time-jumping in the story did not help the comic much, and while Ivan Reis is good at drawing action sequences, he is not the most nuanced character artist (at least as inked by Marc Campos), so when asked to do that, he is a bit of a liability. And there was a lot of that in this issue (I also think the character pieces were a drawback to Reis on Action Comics, as well). However, the action scenes were sparkling!

As for Jump=On Factor, for the most part, Johns was pretty good, setting the plot up very well, I thought.

But then...the end plot point turns out to revolve around Emerald Twilight.

A story from 12 years ago.

Not a good way to move forward.
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Superman #650

Plot Synopsis: Clark Kent enjoys life as a normal human.

Jump-On Factor: 9

Review: I thought this was a VERY well-illustrated story whose only flaw just happened to be a fairly major one. The only flaw I have with this comic is that not much of note HAPPENS in the comic.

I don't mind the Kryptonite Man. He's fine by me, and I don't mind a fight being contained to one issue, but it did not seem to GO anywhere. Supergirl shows up and has a pretty boring fight. That's not enough action!!

Meanwhile, Clark isn't DOING anything!

I don't mind character enriching scenes (I loved the Superman movie Clark and Lois were watching - VERY clever), but I think this comic had too many character enriching scenes, and not enough action by the main character. I get that Clark does not have his powers - that's fine by me, but I'd like to see Clark DO something - have some action in the comic!! Investigate something! ANYthing!

The Luthor scenes were quite good, though. I enjoyed them a lot.

Overall, for a first issue, I would have liked to have seen more than some bridge-building for later issues. Still, a lot of the bridge-building was great fun.
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JSA #83

Plot Synopsis: The JSA are visited by ghosts.

Jump-On Factor: 6

Review: I have to say, Abhay has now officially ruined Rags Morales' art for me! Now, whenever I read a comic by Rags Morales, I just keep looking at Morales' faces - they are just TOOO goofy! Especially when he is trying to convey some sort of emotion. These big goofy eyes and big goofy smiles - it is too much!!

ANYhoo, Paul Levtiz is an old hand at writing stories that refer to past issues but make sure that a new reader can pick up what's going on, and that's what he does here. I would have him ranked higher in Jump-On Factor, but nowhere is the basic idea of what these people are doing together is explained. Just a quick nod is all I want!

However, while Levitz is quite professional, and there's a lot of really nice character moments in the issue, that's ALL there is - just a few different segues, all combining to form, well, nothing much. I mean, even the threat is not all that scary - just ghosts? That's, well, not that scary.

In fact, tying it to the Gentlemen Ghost's origin reminds me of those old goofy Marvel comics in the 70s where a whole two-parter was devoted to reconciling some old piece of minutiae.

Still, a professional job by Levitz. Nothing I'd go out of my way to recommend, but solid work, nonetheless.
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Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40

Plot Synopsis: Arthur Curry is recruited for an epic task.

Jump-On Factor: 10

Review: I don't remember the last time I've seen Jackson Guice's art look this sketchy. The past 8 years or so, he's had this photo-realistic thing going for him, and it is interesting to see the sketchy art. Not bad, but just different.

The story is very much an introduction issue, and as an introduction, it works pretty well. I especially like when the narrator tells Arthur his destiny, and it's all done in the shape of aquatic life, so when he shows his future with the Justice League, the JL members are all seen as aquapeople. It's only a minor scene, but I thought it was quite well done.

Anyhow, this is the only 10 for jump-on factor because this book is basically a new #1. However, while Busiek does an able job of framing the introduction (fitting a lot of into into the comic), the basic setup just doesn't seem all that interesting.

However, I freely admit that my tune might change once I see the cast embark upon their journey. Now, though, it was not all that engaging.
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Blood of the Demon #13

Plot Synopsis: Two Demons means Too Much Trouble To Believe!

Jump-On Factor: 2

Review: You gotta admire the sheer brashness of John Byrne. He's the only writer so far who basically has not let One Year Later interrupt his plot, like, at ALL. This issue is One Year Later only ostensibly, as Byrne pays lip service with some cosmetic changes (like Harry not having an arm and the Detective being in jail) while almost completely just following the story from issue #12.

The idea has some promise, which is that the gang accidentally brought a version of Etrigan from the past, a wilder Etrigan, unbound by Jason Blood, so now there are two Etrigans loose and the cast has to put things right. Their only problem is is that one of the Etrigans is the captive of a real big bad named The Lord of the Damned.

Byrne's art on this project has been strong, and that continues with this issue, as there are lots of really cool scenes, with Byrne going crazy with the gore, but to good effect. However, while the art does not fail to impress, the plotting seems to have run aground. There are way too many scenes of characters standing/sitting around telling the reader what is happening, leaving the story fairly rudderless, and lacking in impact.

The character Randu is the worst at this - it seems like everything he says is long-winded and laced with exposition.

It just doesn't make for an interesting story, even though the art is really nice.
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Green Arrow #60

Plot Synopsis: The after-effects of the Star City disaster are explored, socially and politically.

Jump-On Factor: 7

Review: I am impressed by how well Judd Winick sets this issue up, for Jump-On Ability. About two whole pages of this comic is spent just setting the reader up for the new scenario in the comic, and by using the news, Winick makes it not even seem that awkward.

The negatives of the book, however, is that

A. Green Arrow is barely in it

B. The politics of the book are hackneyed

C. The new characters we meet are one-dimensional

D. Brick is just a lame, lame character who no one would ever try to use in a One Year Later if they did not invent the character, which Winick happened to do with Brick.

I do like the idea of Deathstroke being hired to kill Oliver Queen. Clever move there by Winick.

The rest of the comic?

Not so much.

McDaniel did a fine job in his debut on the art duties, though.
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The Outsiders #34

Plot Synopsis: The Outsiders act as an underground covert action team.

Jump-On Factor: 5

Review: I really have to wonder if Winick realizes that this exact concept was done by Joe Kelly in the Justice League Elite mini-series. Yes, I understand that Kelly, himself, was doing a take-off on the Authority, but that's at least something - a DC mainstream take-off on the Authority. This is the SECOND DC mainstream take-off on the Authority (or rather, Stormwatch Black).

That's just silly.

However, to add to the silliness, almost half of this comic is spent on set-up for characters and situations we will never see again. There is really no reason why Thunder's cover needed THAT much setting up. You could effectively get it done in 2 pages, maybe three. Not 1,494 like Winick used in this issue. If this was going to be something the book was going to spend a lot of time on, then fine, but it's not.

And because of all the time spent setting it up, the team introductions were handled very haphazardly.

And then...finally, the pose-off at the end?

GROAN!

However, I enjoyed Matthew Clark's art, and the additions of Metamorpho and Kid Boomerang are welcome.

Let's see if, now that Winick has spent about an issue introducing the concept, the next issue has some cool stuff in it. But really, it's a lot like watching a drag race begin, only for the cars to veer off into a wall five feet from the starting line.
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Hawkgirl #50

Plot Synopsis: Kendra Saunders deals with life in St. Roch without her partner.

Jump-On Factor: 7

Review: There is a lot to like about Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin's debut on Hawkgirl, most prominently the artwork by the legend Chaykin. Very good stuff.

The Jump-On Factor would be even higher, if it were not for the fact that the relationship between Kendra and Carter (Hawkman) Hall is fairly important for a reader of this book. However, that's the ONLY thing a reader needs to know about Kendra and Carter - so it's not a big deal, as the issue is still quite accessible, as Simonson introduces us to Kendra's status quo and her supporting cast.

The issue has a VERY old-fashioned feel to it, with both the expository dialogue, the captions, the whole approach. It reads very much like a 1970s DC comic book. I have no problem with that, but what I do have a slight problem with is what I saw to be the two major flaws of the issue:

1. Simonson's dialogue was fairly stilted

2. There was a real lack of flair in the issue. Kendra's only appearance in costume was a dream sequence at the beginning of the book! Simonson makes very clever use of her powers in a later scene, and I think that scene was great - but I'd like to see THAT scene and some of the expository scenes mixed in a little more with Kendra actually doing stuff as Hawkgirl.

Still, the art is awesome, there is a funny joke about Hawkman (the classic "Kendra, I'm a guy who wears wings, an Edgar Rice Burroughs' body harness and a hawk's head. Everything I do is foolish" line), the supporting cast in interesting and the mystery Kendra is involved with is intriguing.

A little more fluidity with the dialogue and some more costumed action and I think this book will be a real winner.
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Detective Comics #817

Plot Synopsis: Everything goes back to the way it was awhile back.

Jump-On Factor: 9

Review: See the plot synopsis? That's basically ALL that happens in this issue. So, while I enjoy all the changes (or reversions), I expect something more out of a comic than just making changes I like. There has to be a, you know, STORY - and there really wasn't one in this issue. It's really that straightforward. I feel like I got half an issue in this comic.
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Batman #651

Plot Synopsis: Batman and Robin fight Poison Ivy.

Jump-On Factor: 9

Review: Speaking of feeling like half an issue, I think there is a good reason why the covers to Detective and Batman fit together, because, combined, you basically have one comic book.

The first part was only changes, and that's it.

This issue is only one big fight with Poison Ivy, and THAT's it.

Also, I was not a fan of Don Kramer's art for Batman. I don't know why. I enjoyed him on JSA.

In any event, two issues, and COMBINED they barely form one issue.

Not good, not good.
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Catwoman #53

Plot Synopsis: The new Catwoman deals with her on-the-job training while the old Catwoman gives birth.

Jump-On Factor: 3

Review: I enjoyed most of Will Pfeifer's run with Pete Woods, but I thought the story fell apart a bit towards the end of their run together, although the last issue, #52, particularly the ending, was handled quite well.

This issue has art by David Lopez, who is not Pete Woods, but I suppose I cannot hold that against him. His work is pretty good, and I especially like the way Pfeifer is showing us how not everyone can be an awesome vigilante, especially right off the bat. Thankfully, Catwoman killed Black Mask, so we will not have to see this point (not everyone is a great vigilante) punctuated by torture. I also like watching the Angle Man act shocked when "Catwoman" falls for traps that were decoys for the REAL trap.

There is also a notable scene where Batman gives Selina a teddy bear.

The drawback to this issue is a big one, though, and that is it only really makes sense if you've been reading Catwoman, and, like I've said before, I understand that it must be a pain for a regular writer to incorporate something like this in the middle of their plot (as opposed to a brand-new writer working from a blank slate), but I think Pfeifer did a poor job of making this issue accessible.

Still, there is a lot to like about this issue. I won't recommend it, but I think it IS a pretty good comic, with a lot of potential. Let's just hope we avoid the "baby getting kidnapped" cliche!
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Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #23

Plot Synopsis: Jason Rusch and Lorraine Reilly search for the Professor while dealing with their new status quo.

Jump-On Factor: 6

Review: There are a lot of references to previous issues of Firestorm in this issue, however, unlike some of the other comics, Stuart Moore actually comes out and EXPLAINS the past references, and he also manages to work it into the story so that it does not seem awkward or too heavy with exposition.

In any event, the issue itself is an interesting concept, as Jason Rusch and Lorraine Reilly are searching for the missing Professor, who Jason needed to form Firestorm. Now, though, through events, we learn that Jason needs LORRAINE to form Firestorm!!

The issue is fairly slight, and not enough is going on for me to recommend it, per se, but Jamal Igle's art is good, and Moore writes a fun, quick-moving comic. I liked it.

Recommended That You Don't Buy It

Nightwing #118

Plot Synopsis: Dick Grayson moves to New York City at the same time that Jason Todd does, both operating as Nightwing.

Jump-On Factor: 4

Review: Remember when Tadhg mentioned that this comic seemed like it was written more by editorial than Bruce Jones himself?

Well, for Bruce Jones' sake, I hope that is true.

This comic was dreadful!

Joe Dodd's pencils are not very good, especially when he draws the two Nightwings, as they practically look identical - and I don't think that was intended!!!

But really, this issue was a mess - the plot was a mess, the violence was way too over-the-top, the dialogue was AWFUL (some lines are written as witty, but sure do not READ as witty), the art was a mess (there are some design elements that an artist SHOULD be able to pull off, Dodd does not pull it off). Just an awful comic book, so to see that it is sold out everywhere...well, that is pretty freaky.
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Okay, that's it for me! Feel free to let me know what you folks thought of the first month of One Year Later!!

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Marcus said...

The hackneyed politics have been a big problem with Winick's run on GA and the Outsiders as well (can we mention the America's Most Wanted run?). He was a great writer for a while but he just hasn't had anything new to say in a long time.

4/03/2006 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous JR said...

I have so far ended up buying Aquaman, Action, Superman, Firestorm, Batman, Detective, Legion, Green Lantern, and Blue Beetle (does that last one count?) and so far my overall reaction has been a rather strong "meh".

Most of the issues felt like the last day of summer vaction before things actually get going anywhere. The comics seemed to be peppered with lots of "hey howabout that last year, pretty wild, huh?" dialog that really started to grate on me after a while (The Superman and Batman issues were bad for this).

A few quick rundowns here:

- Green Lantern felt the strongest to me simply because there felt like alot of things were happening and that those things meant something (unlike Firestorm where things happened but didn't feel all that important other than the last bit).
-I did like the two Batman issues together, but felt that, like you said, they were really one comic split into two parts.
-Blue Beetle was visually strong to the point where the art alone was enough to get me to at least stick things out a bit.
-Not too interested in the Superman comics that don't have Superman in them formula. We have a years worth of 52 to explore that in. Kinda wish they'd have started with the Action comics issue rather than the Superman one which felt unneeded.

4/03/2006 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger DCUBoy said...

I just got to say, I loved them all!!

4/03/2006 03:11:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Good for you, Mr. Didio.

Myself, I really, really, *really* hope that the Batgirl's-the-killer thing is just a ruse, as that's a really crappy way to shuffle a character like Cassie Cain offstage.

4/03/2006 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I don't want her to be a bad guy either, but at least they made her go insane first, so they could easily bring her back to the good side any time they want, and in the meanwhile, they can pull an Enemy of the State with Cassie, as, like, Wolverine, she should make for an exceptionally badass villain.

4/03/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you get that "Cassandra Cain went insane" thing? I don't see how that's implied in either the ending issue of BG or OYL Robin.

4/03/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

When she was brought back the dead via the Lazarus Pit, she had a totally different outlook on life - that's gotta be part of the whole "Lazarus Pit makes you nuts" thing, no?

At least enough so so that any future writer could easily write off this "Cassie as a villain" stuff.

4/03/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Wow. So, yeah. Completely uninterested in all of these.

Plus Hard Time, Solo, Lucifer and Seven Soldiers are ending.

Maybe it's time for me to take a big two break for a while. Just not that excited by or intested in anything from Marvel or DC right now.

4/03/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I picked up the Nightwing issue. Was mildly intersted in who the fake Nightwing was. I had a feeling I already knew who it was but figured I'd check back next issue to see who it was.

Then I read the next issue box. There was the identity of the imposter spelled out for all the world to see.

Great job DC. Cost yourself a sale there since you already told me who the imposter was. That was the only reason I was coming back for the next issue.

Someone needs to do a better job of editing.

Mike Nielsen

4/03/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

This will be long:

I'm rather vexed to see that a good number of the OYL books - at least the ones I read - continue a trend that's been getting on my nerves for some time: namely, plots that rotate around a villain who is explicitly out to get the hero (as opposed to, say, the villain's having some criminal plan or power-grabbing scheme that the hero intervenes in). The most egregious example, of course, is the endless, tedious, and hideously (un)resolved Hush storyline in Gotham Knights. Off the top of my head, One Year Later we’re seeing Robin – up against someone who’s trying to frame him for murder! – Nightwing – up against a fake, ultraviolent Nightwing (Jason Todd – yawn) who’s trying to defame his reputation and attract his attention! – and the new Catwoman – up against a villain (Angle Man – yawn) who’s trying to exact revenge on the old Catwoman! (I tend to focus my reading on the Batman-related books, though not to the utter exclusion of anything else.)

There’s nothing wrong with such plotlines in small doses, but I perceive them as too dominant in current comics. There are at least two things wrong with them. First, they tend to be more dependent on continuity than other plots, making them bad “jumping on” points, to borrow Brian’s terminology. Second, and more important, they are anti-heroic. A hero is not typically someone who’s endlessly defending him/herself against attacks directed specifically at him/her; rather, a hero is someone who intervenes, selflessly, in threats against others. Putting the focus on the hero’s troubles gives the storylines thematic overtones of narcissism and paranoia. That’s not the kind of fantasy I go for.

I’m not saying there’s no place for nemeses. A great hero deserves a great villain (or four). But Dr. Doom has rarely been preoccupied with just defeating the FF, though some of his schemes may entail that; the Joker was not traditionally interested only in defeating or humiliating Batman; the Red Skull was typically concerned with resurrecting the Third Reich, not with defeating Captain America per se; etc. Also, note that I’m talking about personal vendettas against the superhero, not his/her secret identity. (In the Hush storyline, they’re synonymous, since Hush’s grudge is against Bruce Wayne but he knows Wayne is Batman. Too bad no one thought to do any Hush stories, to my recollection, that showed him attempting to undermine Wayne Enterprises, not just attacking Batman. Then again, maybe not too bad, considering the hash they made of the simpler Hush vs. Batman stuff.)

On a more general note, I’m sorry to see that the pre-OYL tone of grimness seems to have persisted into a lot of the OYL books. I thought we were supposed to get some lightening up.

As for your specific criticisms of the books, Brian, I’m right with you on Nightwing. (Have we ever seen Dick be such a casual Lothario before?) I’d downgrade Robin, however, both for the reasons noted above and for the fact that I found the first several pages rather inept: The “unknown assailant” thing could easily have been compressed into one page. Also, I’m amused by the logic that if Batman and His Pals have spent the year developing trust, then naturally they should allow Robin to go off on his own to take down his “nemesis.” Seems to me equally arguable that if Robin trusts his compatriates, he should let them help him. I’d also upgrade Hawkwoman, even while agreeing with at least your second criticism. It was a crisp, straightforward story of the type we rarely see anymore - and besides, it was so nice to see Chaykin’s art unencumbered by Chaykin’s dialogue and plotting.

And I’m still disturbed by Selina’s giant baby in the Catwoman splash page.

By the way, am I right in thinking there’s no single editor (lower than Didio) overseeing all the Batman-related books (the Batman titles plus what I like to call “Greater Gotham”)? If so, bad idea. I don’t have the books to check, but it seems to me that Idelson, Schreck, and now Castro have all appeared as names in these titles.

4/03/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

It's strange how bad everyone says Nightwing was, yet it's the one OYL title I can't get my hands on because it sold out so quick!

4/04/2006 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"It's strange how bad everyone says Nightwing was, yet it's the one OYL title I can't get my hands on because it sold out so quick!"

Well, it's a mixture of the book getting a hand from the Jason Todd hype and the fact that DC has been oddly low on the printing extra copies of each issue, choosing instead to go with the feel-good "Sold out!" headline.

I do not think that many of the sales on Nightwing were derived from word of mouth...hehe.

4/04/2006 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

You also had to figure in that Nightwing had what was probably the best pre-OYL cliffhanger: the seeming engagement of Dick and Barbara.

4/04/2006 07:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Dasbender said...

I only briefly flipped through Nightwing, but it looked as bad as you say. One question: who was that redhead Dick woke up next to? At first I thought it was Babs, but then they did the whole "I didn't catch your name" exchange. Could it have been Babs doing some role-playing?

Disagree with your Superman/Action complaints. I thought plenty happened, even though it was mostly set-up. Good setup, good characterization, good dialog, and beautiful art. This is the happiest I've been with any Supes book for years. Of course it might've helped that I read Superman and Action one right after the other.

4/04/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I liked BOP a good deal. That's the only OYL book I've picked up. Since I haven't read any of it since Gail's first issue and could follow it, I thought it was fine as a jumping on point. But for someone in my position, I guess I could have probably picked up any first part of a BOP storyline and more or less had the same reaction.

I'm thinking of giving the Hawkgirl, Aquaman, GL and Legion issues a shot after reading this, just to see if they grab me. If I have money. So probably not. I'm interested in the Supes and Bats storylines, but I imagine they'll read better as trades.

4/04/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

1. Speaking of Manhunter, did BOP (which I don't read) explain how Killer Croc is not dead?

2. When I read the first Outsiders OYL, I agreed that they seemed to put a lot more than necessary into the undercover set-up. (And groaned OUT LOUD at the ending pose.) But after reading the next issue this week, maybe there was a reason. It looks like they may be hanging around the place for a bit.

4/07/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Fair point, Kristen. If they stay in the same spot for the next couple of issues, I guess it makes the use of those pages a little better.

4/08/2006 01:46:00 AM  

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