Tag Archives: Heroic Realism

Stories dragging on and on

I don’t really like 800 page books, I especially don’t like 7 book series of 800 page books. Unfortunately, this trend is now affecting Comic Books as well. For some reason the current crop of Comic Book writers have taken to writing stories that develop at glacial speeds. Please, if you can not write a Comic Book story in 3 issues, 4 at the outside, give it up, you are in the wrong business. For example, DC’s current crossover event Forever Evil is by itself a 6 issue mini series, now add in the three other 6 issue mini series that tie into Forever Evil and both Justice League and Justice League of America are tying in as well. That is 36 issues over 6 month period for this story line, we are barely 4 months in and I want it to be over with already, no more navel gazing Lex Luthor.

Forever Evil is not the only story line dragging. Both Earth 2 and Worlds Finest are killing me as well. Earth 2 is currently in a story line about the re-invasion of earth by Darkseid, okay, fine and dandy, this could have been done in 4 issues, The Legion of Superheroes did the Darkness Saga in 6 issues, we are currently on issue 12. Worlds Finest is almost as bad, They are currently telling a story about Power Girls abilities going all wonky on her, 2 issues right? We are on issue 6 of this story line and we are about to cross over to Batman/Superman. Please make it stop.

Things I own

Hulk_278_Pg_14This is a piece of original art I purchased in maybe 1988 or 1989. This is a two page spread from the Incredible Hulk # 278. The Hulk has apparently gained Bruce Banners intelligence and was given a Presidential pardon. This picture is of that moment and is significant because it shows most of the major Marvel characters of the time. The artist is Sal Buscema, who is the younger brother of the legendary comic artist John Buscema. I think this comic book goes for around $2 in mint condition, so the issue itself is not particularly sought after, but the nifty thing here is, there is only one of these.

Uh, NO!

Over at io9, they ask the question, why was Hal Jordan picked to be Green Lantern rather than Superman or even Batman. The theory goes, that Superman or Batman with a power ring would be just AWESOME!

http://io9.com/why-the-hell-didnt-the-green-lanterns-pick-superman-512852750

They do go on to explain it in a not very convincing way. My take on it is pretty simple, while both Superman and Batman have formidable wills, neither are in Hal Jordan’s category in this area. I point to the old DC Superhero RPG by West End Games as a good indicator. In this game the scale for attributes is roughly 0 to 25, where 0 is an average man and each level you go up on an attribute is roughly double the previous, basically going up in a logarithmic fashion. In this game Superman’s Strength is 25, his will is 20. Hal Jordan’s Will is 25, while Batman is a mere 12. Again keep in mind 0 is an average man, by that standard, Batman has an impressive Will, however, even Gnort, the most incompetent Green Lantern in the universe, has a Will of 15. Superman comes much closer, but on that scale, Hal Jordan has as much Will as Superman has Strength. Face it, when it comes to ring slinging, Hal Jordan was the most qualified candidate in the space sector.

All of this has pretty much played out at one time or another in the comics, both Batman and Superman have ended wearing Hal’s ring, but neither have ever been able to use it as effectively as he has. At one point Hal Jordan takes on the rest of the GL Corps……..AND WINS! This was not a sneaky sneaky bullshit plan, this was a head on full frontal assault. Meanwhile, Superman has been pretty consistently been fought to a stand still by small groups of GL’s. So yeah, no, Hal Jordan was the first best choice for the ring.

green-lantern

RE: Earth 2

So I have been re-reading Earth 2 the last weeks or so, this is probably my 4th read through of the series. This afternoon, I was thinking about how bland the Justice League line is right now, then it dawned on me that the Captain Marvel backup story in JL has been pretty all right, although Billy Batson is kind of a jerk. Then as my mind meandered through the dark roads it travels occasionally and it occurred to me, why isn’t Captain Marvel on Earth 2 instead in the main DC universe.

Earth 1 has plenty of paragon style super heroes, Superman, Supergirl. Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Mon-El, just to name a few. On Earth 2, Superman and Wonder Woman are both dead, Supergirl is on Earth 1 as Power Girl and so far none of the heroes that have appeared on Earth Two have been paragon style heroes. Captain Marvel would have fit in beautifully on Earth 2 as so far all the origin stories have been based on magic and mythology. On Earth 2, he would not be over shadowed by Superman, he would have the chance to shine be what he was meant to be, the worlds mightiest mortal. This would also bring a major bad ass villain to Earth 2 in the form of Black Adam and Doctor Sivana could be that worlds Lex Luthor.

Even if DC wanted to maintain the Captain on Earth 1, they could build an Earth 2 counterpart in the form of Captain Thunder, a moniker that DC has used for him in the past on at least three occasions. It is all so clear to me now. Sigh! Too bad DC does not invite me to their editorial staff meetings.

ShazamHC001

Earth 2

The current DC line of comics has so far ranged from Meh to “Well at least nothing major has changed”. The Justice League line falls into this category, the line is just not that interesting. The Green Lantern line falls into the latter. I have always enjoyed the GL series and perhaps I am enjoying it now because it is the book that has least changed when they rebooted the DC universe.Anyway, in the middle of all this there are two comics that are truly excellent reads, Earth 2 and Worlds Finest. Earth 2 is basically a reintroduction of the Justice Society where Alan Scott is Green Lantern and Jay Garrick is the Flash.

The basis of the story is, the history of Earth 2 resembles that of Earth 1 up until Darkseid invades the planet. On Earth 1, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg band together and defeat him, forming the Justice League along the way. On Earth 2, only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman emerge and a bloody 5 year war ensues. In the end the three sacrifice their lives to win the war and in the process the Robin (Helena Wayne) and Supergirl are thrown into Earth 1 to become the Huntress and Power Girl, which is where the Worlds Finest comic comes in.

On Earth 2, a new generation of heroes is emerging, so far we have seen Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawk Girl, Doctor Fate and The Atom. This last week in Earth 2 Annual #1 they introduced several new characters, Steel, Mister Miracle, Barda and a new Batman.

E2_Batman

So the next question is, if Bruce Wayne died 6 years ago in the war with Apocalypse, then who is the new Batman. Dick Grayson seems like a good choice, but keep in mind on Earth 2, he was never Robin, however this Batman’s costume does some what resemble the Earth 1 Nightwing’s red on black ensemble. There are a couple of other options as well. A FlashPoint style Thomas Wayne, perhaps Damien Wayne (Bruce’s son with Talia Ghul) or Paul Jean Valley are all possibilities. If the quality of this book keeps up, it should be a lot of fun finding out.

Two Reviews

The Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell: It normally takes me seven to ten days to read a book, I know, I know, I am a fairly slow reader. However, I have plowed through the first three books of this series in the last week. Campbell builds an interesting universe where humanity has been engaged in a galactic war with itself for more than a century and due to staggering losses, the war has degenerated into horrible stale mate with the two sides throwing cheap ships with raw crews at each other in near one for one exchanges. The main character John “Black Jack” Geary is an interesting characterization of a man out of time. Although some times it feels like a cross between between Andromeda and Idiocracy, over all it is an excellent read.

Legion of SuperHeroes/Star Trek crossover: When this first came out, I avoided it like the plague, I figured there was no way this was going end well. So by the time the 3rd issue was out, I started reading some reviews of it saying it was turning out pretty good. So I went to my friendly neighborhood comic shop and picked up the first three issues. All I can say about this is, it really sucks ass far worse than I originally thought. Whoever thought this was a good idea needs to fired from IDW and DC Comics. Seriously, I knew who the villain was by page twelve of issue 1, the plot is not only predicable, it is BORING and predictable. The characterizations of the Legion is completely two dimensional and the Enterprise crew is presented in extremely cliched manner and is almost a parody. Please do not waste your money on this crap.

A couple of things rolling around in my head today

First off, I swapped my main machine OS from Ubuntu to Lubuntu. Lubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu which uses a different windows manager. I decided to make the swap for a couple of reasons. First, I have been using it on my netbooks for a couple of years and it has come a long way in that time, developmental wise. Second, it preforms much better and uses considerably less resources than the standard Ubuntu install. Finally, I was not all that impressed with Unity, Ubuntu’s new windows manager, but I had not been terribly happy with Gnome lately either. I think my primary complaint here is OS’s seem to be making a shift to tablet computing and I am not ready to make that shift. Fortunately, being a Linux user, I have choices about what I can use.

Next I have been really annoyed by Amazon’s lack of a Linux version of Kindle software. I mean seriously, they support Android and it would probably take them 20 minutes to port the code and if they waved a bong in front of the programmer, it would probably be done in 10. So in the meantime, I have downloaded the Android SDK to see if the Android Kindle app runs in some tolerable way through the Android emulated environment. More on that later.

I just finished reading Green Lantern #1. I was some what sceptical about the whole thing. This series is pretty much a continuation of the previous Green Lantern series, picking up where the old series left off. I believe this is the only DC book which is doing this for the relaunch of their line. My problem going into it was at the end of the last series, Hal Jordan had been kicked out of the Green Lantern Corp for killing Kronos, the renegade Guardian who was about to destroy the universe. Worse, Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern who made it his life work to destroy the Green Lantern Corp, the Guardian of the Universe and Hal Jordan in particular, had been reinstated as a Green Lantern.  Yeah, it did not really make sense to me either. So the new series picks up with Sinestro going back to his home world and trying to reclaim it from the Sinestro Corp, the very evil being he released on the universe himself. It also follows Hal Jordan as he tries to readjust to life as a normal man trying to pay rent and find a job. Both stories work pretty well, with both characters realizing they were out of their depth and had made some wrong decisions. At the end we are shown Sinestro coming to Hal Jordan for help. I have to say, I am intrigued, I like this book better than all the other relaunch books I have read so far.

Review: Justice League #1

I have two opposing opinions of this book. On the one hand, it is a slick well drawn comic and a decent relaunch of the entire DC Universe. On the other hand Geoff Johns characterization of Green Lantern is way off the mark.

Geoff Johns, the writer, started the story at the very beginning, the first meeting of various heroes and the building blocks of the team to come later. What this particular issue is less a Justice League story and more like a Brave and Bold issue featuring a Batman/Green Lantern team up. Batman’s character is pretty much the same Batman we have known since the 1980′s. He is smart, driven and competent, if not slightly insane.  The art is fantastic, I have always liked Jim Lee, his art style is a bit cluttered and overly stylized, but is otherwise really good.He does his best work on action scenes and we get some of his best work here.

Now onto my grip with this comic. I hated the characterization of Hal Jordan. He is basically written as an incompetent fool with a powerful weapon. This harkens back to Frank Miller’s odious “All-Star Batman and Robin” comic where Green Lantern has his ass kicked by Robin. Seriously, even without the ring, Hal Jordan is a military man, a test pilot, a man who can hold his own. There is no reason to write him as if he were a 17 year with his first car, which is how he came off. There is plenty of ways to create friction between Batman and Green Lantern, after all, Batman’s primary weapon is fear, which is entirely useless against Green Lantern. Even Superman can be intimidated, but this tactic simply does not work against Hal Jordan, so Batman would have to learn to deal with him differently. None of this is approached, instead, Batman bullies Green Lantern and Green Lantern acts like a teenager, in many respects they are almost ignoring each other.

I was also a bit concerned about Superman lashing out at Green Lantern, while GL was acting particularly smug, Superman, even a young Superman, would have been far more level headed and inclined to give him a chance to explain himself. Instead, Superman acts petulant, a very un-Superman like quality. So while I liked the art and the story was sound, I felt charactization was lacking and Johns could have spent more time getting a feel for the iconic Hal Jordan instead of trying to go for laughs between he and Batman. On my normal scale of 1 to 5, I am giving this book a tentative 2, if the next couple of issues shape up and and give us better characters, I will forgive this lapse.

Review – DC Retroactive: Green Lantern

Okay, DC Retroactive: Green Lantern has been the comic book I have been waiting for all summer. It brings back Mike Grell and Dennis O’Neil to produce a new Green Lantern/Green Arrow story, hearkening back to the good old days of the 1970′s. I have blogged previously that I did not care for the previous instalments of the DC Retroactive series. Really though, there was no way this one could miss. Mike Grell is the best comic book artist in the history of comic books. Dennis O’Neil is the defining story writer of DC comics in the 1970′s and was responsible for the 2nd wind given to the Silver age in mid 70′s.

I have only two gripes with the book, both are fairly minor. First, the story separated Green Lantern (GL) and Green Arrow (GA) into to separate stories and they did not come together until the last pages of the story. I think the best GL/GA stories of the 70′s were those in which they were featured together and I think O’Neil missed the chance to write a great buddy story and replace the generally horrible Justice League: Cry for Justice as the most recent expression of the GL/GA relationship. My second complaint is the GA plot was closer to the GA of the 1980′s rather than the GA of the 70′s.

Beyond those two points, the writing and art of the first story were good. This is neither Grell or O’Neil’s finest work, the Grell art is far better than the O’Neil writing. By today’s standard, O’Neils story is weak, but by the standards of the time and in context of the the 70′s, the story accomplished what it was suppose to, which was show the characters as they were in the 1970′s. I especially enjoyed the panels where GL uses his ring to make a giant can opener and a tennis racket, in classic GL form in the 1970′s. The backup story was reprinted from Green Lantern #76 which was the beginning of the classic run by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams that ended abruptly with issue #89. The only issue that might have been a better pick was Green Lantern #85, the issue were GA finds out his side kick Speedy is a heroine addict. This was a good read, I enjoyed it all the way to the end, turned it over and read it again.

DC Retroactive Series

Several months ago I posted that I was looking forward to summer series of books by DC comics  called DC Retroactive. This week the first three were released, Batman, the Flash and Wonder Woman. Where to start, where to start. The idea behind this series to present the character as they existed in the 1970′s in a new story and then reprint a story from the actual 70′s as a backup feature. In all three comic, the reprint story in the back was better than the featured faux 70′s story. The feature stories felt more like a caricature of the 70′s, than an actual story from the 70′s. The writers took all the bad things about stories from that time period and ignored all the interesting things being done.

While I think the reprinted stories in these books were better than the the featured stories, in none of these cases did I feel these were the best stories they could have picked. For instance, in the case of the Flash, they reprinted a mildly amusing time travel story from DC Presents, where the Flash teams up with Superman. From 1970 to 1979 DC published 120 issues of the Flash and I read a great many of those issues and at least 3/4 of them were better than the story they chose to reprint. The Wonder Woman story was the worst of the lot, both stories blew chunks, the Batman book was the best, but still fell short. This is not a good start to what I had hoped was going to be some fun nostalgic reads for an otherwise dull comic reading summer. Too bad.