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From: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/joshw24/news/?a=46588

Comic book store says Superman “blasphemous”

Action Comics #1 has one store owner angry.

A comic book store owner in North Carolina has said he will not sell Action Comics after alleging the Man of Steel is anti-God and blasphemous. Jeff Lamb, an owner in Asheboro, wrote on his store’s Facebook page that he plans to boycott Action Comics for the time being and lashed out at the writer.

“If you want Action Comics, you will have to buy it elsewhere,” wrote Lamb.

He said author Grant Morrison was creating an anti-Christian character in the new mold of Superman and said the relaunching by DC Comics was “a slap in the face to Superman, Christians and Superman creators Siegel and Shuster!”

He takes much of his criticism for a single panel that shows Superman saying “GD” after being struck by artillery fire. While many readers say it is simply a grunt of some kind, Lamb believes it is meant to be “God damn.”

“I could see Guy Gardner and maybe even Hal Jordan (Green Lanterns) saying it,” he wrote. “I could see Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) saying it. I could easily see Damian Wayne (Robin) or MAYBE even Bruce Wayne saying it. But Superman was created to be the ‘perfect’ super-hero. Unblemished. Superman is an American icon. […] This wasn’t creative flow. It wasn’t necessary in the story. It isn’t Superman at all. And it goes against a basic Christian principle. It was a blatant stab.”

It is an odd situation for the comic book owner, who is obviously displeased at seeing a still vulnerable Superman in the DC relaunch this month.

Although, Lamb said he’s “had to accept a LOT of changes over my nearly 35 years in the business,” he is confident the Last Son of Krypton took God’s name in vain. For him, that is enough to keep the books off the shelves of his store.

“I deal with books like Crossed and The Boys,” he wrote. “I accepted gay characters being introduced into a children-specific book like Archie Comics. I however am getting very tired of having comic writer’s liberal agendas force fed to me. Mr. Morrison has stepped over my line. If I have to stand alone on this … I will.”

Lamb said he intends to contact Diamond Comic Distributors and cancel orders for Action Comics #2 and all other titles written by Morrison, whom he said was “a liberal Scottish schmuck.”

“I ask my customers to understand as best they can,” he wrote. “I understand that it’s only a comic and it’s not the real world, but I feel that as a Christian I have to draw the line somewhere.”

BM

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Section: Comic Book News, Comic Books, Entertainment, Latest News, North America

From: http://bikyamasr.com/42534/comic-book-store-says-superman-blasphemous/

Stolen ‘Superman’ comics retrieved; fellow fans reach out to theft victim

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — In the end, things played out the way they do in the “Superman” comic books. Good conquered evil. Justice prevailed. A tale of the vulnerable being victimized spawned a chain of goodwill that spread not only across the country, but the world.

Mike Meyer, who lives off Social Security checks for a mental disability and a part-time job at McDonald’s, had his stolen “Superman” collection returned in its entirety this week after police tracked down the loot and the alleged thief.

The good news came one day after Meyer, 48, of Granite City, received his first glimpse of the generosity sparked by his story, which spread from one comic book collector to the next via a network of online message boards and email lists.

Dozens of their letters, comic books and figurines were delivered to his house — just the start of what has been promised in the flood of messages and calls from people who read his story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week.

Meyer, who lives alone with his dogs Krypto and Dyno, has been a Superman collector most of his life. Sometime the week of Aug. 29, he was tricked out of more than 1,800 of his favorite “Superman” comic books, along with hundreds of figurines and other memorabilia.

Meyer suspected an old acquaintance he encountered at a comic book store just days before noticing the huge gap in his collection. The man had invited himself to Meyer’s house and asked to see where he kept the most precious items. Then the man left while his girlfriend watched movies with Meyer.

On Friday, Granite City police announced they had arrested and obtained charges against Gerry Armbruster, 37, of the 2200 block of Iowa Street in Granite City. Police said Armbruster was linked to the Superman case after being caught Thursday forcibly robbing jewelry and money from a 76-year-old who had hired him to do some renovation work on a business there.

“I felt very happy and felt justice was served,” Meyer said in a phone interview Friday from work. He said the Superman comics and movies have taught him not to react with revenge or contempt, and that “you cannot give evil for evil.”

“I forgive him, but I’m not going to forget,” he said.

The morals of the comics appear to have left an imprint on others as well. Many who sent cards and donations said they felt compelled to carry out the spirit of Superman. Donations have come in from Florida, Colorado, Alaska. The story also spread internationally.

“I am keen to know if you can put me in touch with the poor chap who was done such a rotten turn,” wrote a man named Paul, from Australia.

“This is by far the most horrible thing I read this month, or even year,” said Adrian, from Canada.

“I told my wife and we were literally in tears because we felt so badly about what happened,” said Ben Bittner of Shakopee, Minn., who has a brother with special needs.

He wanted to know how to send a care package to Meyer, explaining, “Comic book fans believe in paying it forward.”

A Facebook page dedicated to Meyer has more than 2,100 “likes.” Celebrities and publicists associated with Superman films, past and future, have expressed interest in reaching out to him.

Cleveland officials have offered to pay Meyer’s way to the city for a grand tour of the house where Joe Shuster created Superman. The Chamber of Commerce in Metropolis, Ill., which bills itself the “Hometown of Superman,” also has a plan in the works. A group called Superfriends of Metropolis plans to drop off hundreds of donations next week.

From: http://news.bostonherald.com/news/national/midwest/view/20110916stolen_superman_comics_retrieved_fellow_fans_reach_out_to_theft_victim/srvc=home&position=recent

DC Comics Offers Digital Comics Same Day as Print

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DC Comics, home to popular series such as Batman, Superman and Green Lantern, is offering digital editions of new comic books the same day as print editions hit retail – a move that has yet to be adopted by the comics publishing industry in general, even as digital versions are sometimes offered after the print date. Courtesy of the program, new installments in the recent reboots of all 52 featured comic books it produces are now being provided in both digital and physical formats simultaneously. Part of an initiative targeted at turning around slumping readership numbers, the storied publisher hopes to boost comics’ declining fan base while drumming up support for its new story arcs.

New digital comics will cost $2.99, dropping to just $1.99 after a month, while oversized and giant issues are priced at $3.99. Available for Apple iOS platforms such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad via dedicated apps and digital comics distributor ComiXology, Android and Windows Phone 7 device owners can also access fresh issues every Wednesday. Free previews will further be offered, and purchases will be readable offline so fans can enjoy the publisher’s entire “New 52” line, which resets all featured characters’ series to issue #1, at their leisure.

While apps offer few features beyond interactive browsing, and other publishers like Marvel have dabbled with virtual distribution before, the push marks a major comic manufacturer’s first attempt to fully embrace same-day digital outreach. Described by technology commentators as a watershed moment for online retail, if the venture is successful, it could pave the way for comics and graphic novels’ switch to the Internet as a primary distribution platform.

From: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/blogs/gear-up/dc-comics-offers-digital-comics-same-day-as-print-20110915

XVII: DC Comics New 52 – The First Week Continued

Over the entirety of the month of September, DC Comics, publishers of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and a slew of other characters, some widely known and others that are not so known, will be publishing 52 brand new issue #1s. In these efforts, they hope to reach out to a brand new audience, making all the comics completely accessible to any reader hoping to pick up an issue.

Heroes and Villains Comic Store

To further their efforts, DC Comics is also simultaneously releasing the issues as they are released on electronic devices, like tablets or smart phones, to reach a new breed of electronic audience. I believe that showing such a strong initiative is a definite admirable move, one that everyone should be taking advantage of.

However, with 52 brand new issue 1s, I barely have the time to be able to read all of them. Fortunately, Heroes and Villains Comic Book Store here in Tucson is teaming up with Comic Matters to review all 52 issues. With everyone involved, we plan to give you the ultimate comprehensive list of all the new #1 issues and why you should check out each one, whether it features superheroes or government agents or western epics or space travelers or vampire wars, DC will have something for you.

————————————————–

Justice League International #1

Justice League International

“Confidence in every level of authority is at an all-time low”

Possibly the most emblematic of the entire purpose of DC’s entire “relaunch” stunt, Justice League International asks the question: “what do the heroes of tomorrow look like?”.
In Justice League International‘s potentially most precognitive scene, an angry mob sets fire to The Hall of Justice as a response to The U.N.’s announcement of the team roster.
It’s a surprisingly funny satire about trying to assemble a team of saviors that is simultaneously politically correct, marketable, and capable of handing Michael-Bay-Level threats to the status quo.
Plus: Batman.  Everyone likes Batman.

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Justice League International Interior Artwork
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Justice League International Interior Artwork
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Justice League International Interior Artwork
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Justice League International Interior Artwork
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Justice League International Interior Artwork
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Men of War:

Men of War #1

“Every order you’ve ignored has led to some aggravating tactical victory for your men.  I ask again, corporal.  Why are you here?”

Men of War tries its best to everything to everyone: it’s a patriotic salute to the United States Armed forces with a lead who’s a rebellious-yet-sensitive rabble-rouser.  It’s a war book whose villain is an old fashioned, costumed supervillain.  It blends gritty realism with Marvels-style eyewitness reports of superfolks in action.
In short: it’s an endearingly schizophrenic, genre-bending attempt by DC to tip their baby toe into a new genre.
Also there are explosions.  Lots and lots of explosions.

O.M.A.C. #1

Omac:

“What I want is your complete attention and for you to understand that your life is now mine.  I am Brother Eye.  And you and eye have much to talk about.  But first, call your girlfriend.  She’s worried about you”

If you recognize the name “Omac”, this book was written just for you.
Essentially DC’s token “old school” book, Omac retells the origin story of the “One Man Army Corps” himself in the easily imitable “Silver Age” style (right down to the “‘Krackling’ Keith Giffn, ‘Daring’ Dan Didio and ‘sensational’ Scott Koblish’” credit page attributions).
With just enough plot legally necessary to be labeled a “story”, Omac follows the titular lead as he rampages through a subterranean super-science laboratory, only to reveal in the last act that (Gasp!) the big ol’ monosyllabic monstrosity we’ve been watching is actually the alter ego of a scrawny young scientist!
Between the familiar narrative techniques, the tried-and-true superhero tropes and the massive cast of recently-dusted-off Jack Kirby characters, older fans will love it.

I totally did.  I’ll admit it.

Come on!  Dig that crazy mohawk!

Awesomely Awesome OMAC Artwork

Batgirl:

Batgirl #1

“Oh, yes.  Feeling a creep crumble under my feet…I didn’t even know how much I missed it”

The old continuity saw Batgirl shot, paralyzed, and sexually assaulted by The Joker while his henchmen took pictures to show to her father, Gotham Police Commissioner Jim Gordon.
It was a stupid, insensitive story, completely inappropriate for a character designed to sell dolls and lunchboxes to young girls.  It’s one of the biggest, most embarrassing reason women feel unwelcome in comic book stores.
Now paraplegic, Batgirl became “Oracle”–a barely glorified secretary/police dispatcher for the male bat-family characters.  A role comics’ mostly young male readership felt less threatened by.
But she’s back!  Thank God!  This new “relaunch” unfortunately doesn’t negate the aforementioned tactless story entirely, but it does put Batgirl back in the streets of Gotham, kicking criminal butt as only she can!
And it’s not a sappy story about “Batgirl getting her groove back”, either.  It’s just as action-packed as any of her male counterpart’s titles.  Possibly more.
Head-kicking and motorcycles shaped like bats.  Just like it always should’ve been.

Green Arrow #1

Green Arrow:

“Villains should live in the shadows, in constant fear of imprisonment.  But instead of ostracizing them like vermin, our society glorifies them.  Allowing them to soak up fame and fortune like some kind of demented celebrities.  Goodfellas are cool.  Pirates are sexy.  Hit men are kickass.  That’s not how I see them”

The new Green Arrow is all about the nature of identity in a society obsessed with celebrity.
Oliver Queen looks to be a good 20 years younger than when we last saw him, a lot less bearded, and possessed by a new, Batman-esque level of dedication to fighting crime.
And it looks like everybody’s favorite communist is back to being a captain of industry–this time portrayed as a Steve-Jobs-like techno visionary who blows off steam built up from a long day at the office by launching arrows into the nerve clusters of angry poor people.
Green Arrow is the DC Character dialed back the most to his initial core concept…which will make him the most fun to watch fall, rise and grow over the coming years.

Green Arrow on the hunt.


Swamp Thing:

Swamp Thing #1

“You’re a hard man to find, Dr. Holland”

For decades the character of Swamp Thing has been severed from his initial alter ego, Alec Holland.
Initially, Swamp Thing was a scientist who transformed into a weird plant monster after a freakish lab accident.  Then we were told that he was a weird plant monster who was miraculously possessed by the memories of that scientist, who actually died during the aforementioned lab accident.  Then he became an Earth elemental.  And then a God.  And then a Black Lantern.  And then a White Lantern.  And so on, and so on.
The relaunch puts Swamp Thing in touch with his roots once again (see what I did there?  With the “roots”?) as the kindly botanist Alec Holland–friend to all living things, be they plant or animal.
He’s essentially the Captain Planet of the DC universe, scolding Batman for his love of aerosol “Bat-shark repellant” and Superman for The Daily Planet’s lackluster recycling efforts.
This new incarnation has Alec in possession of an Aquaman-like plant telepathy that allows him to “hear plants screaming”.

Who doesn’t want to read that?  Come on!

Hawk and Dove #1

Hawk and Dove:

“In the last hundred years, American politics has been a system of checks and balances.  But no more!  Now there are just two parties vying for power, and the balance has shifted too far!  As a result, this country is rotting from the inside out.  With my weapons of mass destruction, we will cut that rot out on our own, but it out like a cancer!”

Hawk and Dove are a pair of Batman-and-Robin-like teammates who personify the powers of War and Peace, respectively.
This comic–drawn by the most apologetically cheesy artist in the entire industry, probably the world– attempts to use that concept to spin an allegory about the current state of American Politics for a good three pages before quickly shifting gears into, and I quote “sci-fi super-zombie” mode.
It’s super, super awesome.
There’s just enough highfalutin how-do-you-do to make modern readers feel okay with themselves for enjoying a superhero comic book, and then–WHAM!  Sci-fi super zombies!  Attacking the Washington Monument!  With their bare hands!
God, I love comic books.

Hawk and Dove doing their thang.

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Later this week, we take a look at the next batch of DC 52 Releases, including “Batman and Robin”, “Green Lantern”, and “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.”. Frankenstein hunts monsters with chain guns. I love comics!

– Heroes and Villains Comic Book Store is located on 4533 E. Broadway Blvd., in between Swan and Columbus. They were voted “Best Comic Book/Game Store” by the readers of the Tucson Weekly in 2009 and 2010. You can reach them at 520-321-HERO(4376).

– In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at comicmatters@gmail.com

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From: http://tucsoncitizen.com/comic-matters/?p=246

Pipeline: DC’s New 52 – The First Batch

By now, you’ve read a lot of reviews of the first 13 titles of DC Comics’ New 52. Another batch hits store shelves and digital devices tomorrow, but let’s take one last look at many of those titles today. I won’t go through full reviews of each, but I’ll be looking at random things from ten of the titles.

Consider this the Odds and Ends bin of New 52 reviews:

“Action Comics” #1:

It’s nice of DC Comics to reach across company lines and give Mark Gruenwald a place in the DCU as a Metropolis police officer chasing down Superman.

While we all know the big death at the end of this issue is a fake out, it is interesting to see how much blood the new 52 is drawing without the Red Lanterns comic due out until next week.

Superman is a public crusader for all that NPR tells him is evil in the world? This could get tiring fast…

Brent Anderson’s coloring is the star for me. Rags Morales’ art is nice, but it needs the layer of earth tones on it that Anderson gives it to sell it. I don’t see how a brighter, more colorful palette would help the art. Maybe that’s why I’m liking this more than “Identity Crisis” already? Less primary colors?

By the way, “Identity Crisis” is seven years old already. How old do you feel now?

“Batgirl” #1:

Batgirl’s costume is the very definition of “needlessly fussy,” isn’t it? The little bits of ribbing on the inside thighs, arms, and rib; the texture to the gloves; the random seam lines drawn throughout the costume.

That Adam Hughes cover does nothing for me. The big problem is that it looks like Batgirl’s face is from one painting, and everything else on the cover is from a completely different piece of work.

Gail Simone’s final page cliffhanger is unusually strong, just for being so unusual. I can’t remember reading one like that, ever. Good job.

“Stormwatch” #1:

I was hoping for more here, honestly. What I ended up with is an early attempt at getting some of the attitude right from the classic Warren Ellis run with many of his developed characters, but winding up with something forgettable. I read the book two days ago and right now couldn’t tell you much of anything that happened. I think there was one, maybe two, clever bits, but that pales next to the original run.

I think of all the new 52 titles debuting this month, “Stormwatch” is the one most likely to be compared to its former self, just because of its popularity and its recent age. There’s a focused set of issues everyone read and remembers, much more so than the entire run of “Action Comics” or “Detective Comics,” to use the two most extreme examples.

Miguel Sepulveda’s art doesn’t do much for me, either, and I’m not even comparing him to the liked of Bryan Hitch, Oscar Jimenez or Tom Raney. I’m not even a big Raney fan, to be honest. But Sepulveda’s art is inconsistent, his characters often gangly and lean, looking uncomfortable when they’re just standing around.

“Detective Comics” #1:

Icky. Icky icky icky.

I do like Tony Daniel’s art more than most, though. It’s the artistic highlight of this first week of DC’s new lineup. It’s beautiful, even if the content matter is so often icky and off-putting. Daniel’s thin lines and detailed line work is improved by the colors of Tomeu Morey, whose painterly (almost watercolored) style keeps the book grounded. It doesn’t have that look of a computer-colored comic. It almost reminds me of the type of work you’d see in the higher end DC prestige format books of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

It’s probably fair to rate this book as “Teen,” but then “Action Comics” #1 is “Teen” and seems benign by comparison. I would have given this one a “Teen Plus.” Does anyone ever read the ratings next to the UPC box, though? Does it matter?

“Hawk and Dove” #1

In that opening two page spread, Hawk looks really bored for a man who’s punching out two people at the same time. His stance exudes complete indifference for a man on board a hijacked plane.

It’s a small thing, I know, but I like the page layouts Rob Liefeld uses in the opening half of the issue, where a white border appears on the left and right side of the pages, giving each page a taller look with a heavier black border to showcase it.

As for the rest of it: You know what kind of artist Liefeld is. Nothing in here will change your mind one way or the other. Storywise, Sterling Gates is starting something here. I’ll read the next issue to see how he jumps off from here, but I’m not excited yet by it.

“Batwing” #1:

One thing I think a lot of writers are getting right with their first issues is their last pages. Most every issue I’ve read so far has a big turn of events at the end — on the last page or two — to excite the reader for the next issue. “Batwing” has a strong one on page 19, for sure.

I like Ben Oliver’s figure work, but there’s work yet to be done on storytelling and backgrounds. There are few backgrounds, and characters sometimes appear and disappear from the page at random. The best example of this in the issue is the introduction of Samuel Jackson in a golden Hawaiian shirt in “The Haven,” which is Batwing’s Batcave. There’s no way of telling where he’s standing in The Haven and, in fact, only appears in the same panel with Batwing once. His big introduction is a jarring surprise that makes you wonder if you just jumped to a new scene or something. He’s not even present in silhouette form before that.

Right now, Oliver is a better illustrator than sequential storyteller. There’s a lot of potential there, though, and I hope it gets fully realized. Maybe he just needs more time and the monthly schedule isn’t going to work for him?

“Animal Man” #1:

Jeff Lemire is clever in this issue, and I think that’s a large part of what’s earning this book such high praise so far. I like the way Buddy invokes his animal powers, and the often subtle ways he uses them around the house amuses me. But an extended dream sequence in the second half of the issue robbed it of all momentum for me, even if it leads into the big final page reveal for this issue.

It’s a pair of gross-out images for the comic that grab your attention. But at least nobody got impaled.

Travel Foreman changes his art style drastically for this issue, and I’m not a fan. While I like some of the neat layout tricks and perspective shifts, I’m afraid the extremely thin-lined art (as inked by himself and Dan Green) doesn’t do anything for me. I’m trying to decide if it’s so sparse as a stylistic choice, or a deadline-beating choice.

Those buildings in the scene when Animal Man shows up at the hospital made me laugh. It might work as a rough layout, but the simplistic rectangles loosely drawn on a tall rectangle to represent lights in a tall building made me cringe. It’s either that or it uses state of the art CGI techniques, the kinds used to draw backgrounds for video games in 1995.

I wish half as much attention was paid to drawing details on backgrounds as is necessary in drawing the new costumes on the characters.

“Justice League International” #1:

You won’t find a bigger fan of the original “Justice League International” than me. The Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis/Kevin Maguire run set the bar pretty high for superhero team comics. More than two decades later, here comes an attempt to recreate it from scratch with a model more relevant to the modern times, and with most of the humor removed. What you wind up with is a fairly standard, though entertaining, superhero team comic. If nothing else, it proves the one truism of comedic stories: you need a strong dramatic spine to the thing to make it work and to be memorable.

The Bwah-ha-ha era had those plots and those character arcs and the drama. We may quote the one-liners or remember the sillier bits of those stories, but they come up by way of the conflicts and drama under the surface. “One punch!” isn’t so funny because one guy took out another with a single jab. It’s funny because of the way the relationship between Batman and Guy Gardner started out and built up. It’s funny because of the reactions from the rest of the cast of characters, pleased with what happened because of their own conflicts with Gardner.

Take that humor away and you have just another standard superhero comic. That’s what this “JLI” is. Dan Jurgens brings the U.N.-based superhero team into the 21st century, does away with the “sillier” trappings of the original series, and gives us something that could, in the long term, be a very character-based.

Aaron Lopresti’s art is pleasing. He’s always been good at eye candy, and he gives us some of that here, but he’s also an overall strong artist. His storytelling is just as solid as his figure construction.

Bonus points for including a character with “August” in his name, though.

Right now, “JLI” is in the early for being the most traditional superhero team book in the lineup, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There should be something for everyone across 52 titles, right?

“Swamp Thing” #1:

It’s a little talky, but that didn’t bother me. It’s well-crafted and constructed, and doesn’t lose me as a new “Swamp Thing” reader. I can figure out that Holland and Swampy have been separated. I get that. The rest of it has some interesting takes on the characters and cute in-jokes for long-term readers and fans. Scott Snyder gets credit for that. It might be a bit too complicated for a new reader, though.

Yanick Paquette gets credit for beautiful art, reminiscent of Tommy Lee Edwards or Kevin Nowlan. For a guy who’s often known as a pretty girl artist, he’s given none of that in this issue and still draws an inviting comic, complete with more members of the Justice League than showed up in “Justice League” #1.

Static Shock #1:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first Aquaman moment of DC’s New 52! Again, it’s another shocking last page, though I suspect one whose ramifications will be extremely short-lived.

I’ve never read a Static comic before. He strikes me as an ultra-smart science kid, sort of a modern-day Peter Parker in Harlem. I like his interaction with his family, and look forward to maybe a little comeuppance from his often too flippant approach to crime fighting.

RANDOM 52 THOUGHTS

One more overall thought: I’ve seen lots of comments and questions from people in the last week who had issues with the fact that the comics are set in separate time periods. Most of the titles are set in the “here and now,” while some go back further in time (“Justice League”) or even further back (“Action Comics”), or skip around amidst time frames. If DC is serious about drawing in new and lapsed readers, wouldn’t it be easier to have every comic running at the same point in the timeline?

And then I remembered the grief Bill Jemas used to get at Marvel a decade ago for his edict that comics shouldn’t have flashbacks. That certainly was one way to taking care of the problem DC is currently setting itself up with. Good ol’ Jemas was prescient once again…

I off-handedly wondered last week if the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee “Justice League” comic could be compared favorably to the Giffen/DeMatteis “Justice League” #1 issue of 25 years prior. I went back and read the issue, and found that the Bwah-Ha-Ha first issue contains a far stronger story in it than the modern #1. The amount of story, character, and adventure in the issue far surpassed what DC was able to put out at their flagship comic in 2011. I wanted to read Bwah-Ha-Ha’s second issue more, even though its first contained a story with an actual ending.

Lesson learned: You don’t need “To Be Continued” to excite readers for the next issue. The tease wasn’t in wondering what came next. The tease was that I was so entertained by the style and execution of the story that I wanted to see the same creative team do it again and again, along with the promises the first issue made with its teases for future stories. By comparison, the Johns/Lee comic has a couple of neat scenes, a last page surprise, and the promise that it might be entertaining next issue, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a full story yet even by then.

The biggest indictment of this new launch of DC Comics, though, is that most of it could have been done without relaunching the whole universe. “Batwing” doesn’t need it at all. “Justice League International” doesn’t need it. “Animal Man” doesn’t need it. “Detective Comics” doesn’t really need it. Nor “Static Shock.” These are comics with but the most minor tweaks to differentiate then from what DC published last week. Over the years, we’ve had any number of new series debut with new takes on old favorite characters where the reader just had to accept the premise shift and everything else made sense. The New 52, while being marketed as telling stories that couldn’t have been done before, really is filled with stories that any new #1 issue could have satisfied. The only difference is, now they all have more seams in their costumes and armor on their soft fleshy parts.

It’s not that there aren’t some entertaining comics to be had here, but how this is necessary and world-changing is beyond me. I guess it isn’t, but it’s marketing. Just saying, “We’re starting at #1 for everyone” would be lame and nonsensical. You grab more media attention with a full relaunch.

Though, from a lapsed DC Universe reader’s point of view, starting at #1 across the line with a new relaunch and a reconfigured timeline probably makes it easier for me to accept the line and appreciate it all. So if lapsed readers are the target audience with this, they’ve done good. Now let’s see if it’ll satisfy the non-comics fans coming to the table.

And I’m not at all shocked by CBR’s New Reader Test showing that JLI is one of the only books that hooked new readers. It’s straightforward superheroics with a large cast of colorful characters you might want to learn more about, without being mired in continuity or baggage that this whole initiative was supposed to wipe clean.

Also: No arms got cut off, no swords sliced through anyone’s abdomens, no trains crushed any superheroes, nobody’s face got cut off, and nobody got tortured. Doesn’t that sound like an appealing change of pace from the rest of DC’s lineup?

AND IN CONCLUSION…

13 more books are being released this week, and I’ll be working my way through all of them, hopefully. I’ve read some non-DC books, too, and I hope to have time to discuss some of that, too. (Hint: “Pigs” #1 at Image this week is a strong first issue with a great premise.)

I also have a photography blog, AugieShoots.com, where I’m posting nearly daily. VariousandSundry.com hasn’t been updated in a little while, but that’s where I go to vent on all the other topics in my life.

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From: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=34371

EXCHANGE: Comic fans help Granite City man

From: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-exchange-superfri,0,7413862.story

Should comic books emulate the TV biz? Plus: More reviews of ‘The New 52’


swamp-thing-1

Image Credit: DC Comics

Pop culture in September. A month of beginnings and renewal. A time when a certain sector of entertainment expends much marketing energy to not just psyche up the public about its products but get them excited about the very medium that delivers those products. We’re talking TV, of course, and the “new fall season” that’s imminent. But this month, we’re talking about the comic book industry, too. Last week, DC Comics began rebooting its entire line of comics via an initiative called “The New 52.” Ongoing hits like Action Comics (home to Superman) and Detective Comics (abode to Batman) restarted with new creative approaches, storylines, and creative teams. Launching with them: A bevy of new series, many starring familiar characters, returning to prime time comics the way TV stars of the past return in new vehicles. (‘Tool Time’ Tim Allen/Last Man Standing = Construction worker Alec Holland/Swamp Thing. Grunt-grunt!)

“The New 52” has been a promo-palooza for the struggling comic book biz, where sales of the monthly, ad-supported periodical – the field’s signature staple – have been slumping over the past three years. Anecdotal evidence – my Twitter feed and recent visits to unusually crowded comic shops – suggests that lapsed fans and new readers are giving these comics a try… unless, that is, a bunch of foolish collectible hunters have convinced themselves that the bonanza of #1s represents a lucrative investment opportunity. DC’s super-sized reboot has certainly generated a massive amount of mainstream media attention, including weekly reviews from no less than The New York Times. This post represents the fifth time this past week that EW.com has written about “The New 52.” That’s some serious Glee-like overkill! Hopefully, “The New 52” will help spark renewed, lasting interest in the medium, and not be remembered as a gimmicky adrenaline injection that will quickly fade. [Note: DC isn’t alone these days in doing newsy-neat things to galvanize comic consumers. Marvel’s recently launched “Spider-Island” saga — think: Spider-Man meets The Walking Dead  – and Dark Horse’s new Angel and Faith series – based on the Buffy The Vampire Slayer characters – have also generated buzz.]

A proposal for the comic book industry, specifically DC and Marvel, offered by a well-meaning comic book fanboy that wants to see the medium survive and thrive: Build on the positives of “The New 52” by going totally TV. Turn the fall into an annual rite of heavily-hyped rejuvenation. More: Model the entire publishing year after the traditional television season. Market share giants Marvel and DC should launch the majority of their new series – and launch new storylines in all ongoing series – in September. Each season would last 9 monthly issues, or September through May. The three summer issues –June, July, and August – would be used for stand-alone stories or a company-wide crossover event. (Or just something more meaningful and valuable than TV’s offering of reruns, reality, and burn-offs.) Of course, companies should save a few high profile launches for January or February – splashy “midseason premieres” that would bring a secondary wave of publicity to the publishing year. As the season comes to a close, companies should announce their slates for the next season at a major weekend comic book convention (i.e., WonderCon) — the comic industry equivalent of TV’s springtime “upfront” week in New York City. Similarly, the San Diego Comic-Con in July would become something that it already is, but should be more grand – the comic book analog to the TV industry’s late summer press tour in Los Angeles.

I’m far from the first to observe that the comic books have a lot in common with the TV biz. And it’s not like publishers haven’t tried to adopt TV models before. As my colleague Darren Franich notes, before DC’s “New 52” there was DC’s 52, a weekly series written by a team of writers that anchored a company-wide cliffhanger serial/soap opera-esque storytelling event. But my idea is cooler! The TV season model imposes narrative structure on the chaotic amoeba that is the comic book industry, making the publishing year a story unto itself, which in turn makes the medium easier and inviting for the press to cover. More importantly, the TV season model – with a beginning and end; with an annual reboot mechanism — allows for constant, natural, welcome renewal and change. No more grumpy-crusty fanboys cynically crapping on periodic, creatively contrived, commercially desperate reboot events! With the TV model, that dirty word gets a sexy-sunshiney makeover. Goodbye, “reboot.” Hello “renewal.”

“The New 52” could be training/reorienting comic book consumers for the TV season model; the more profound reboot taking place here could be fan culture itself. That’s exciting. Of course, while marketing may help launch a series, it’s quality (or devotion to a character-star) that keeps readers hooked for a whole season. Is “The New 52” delivering the goods? My 10-year-old son thinks so. “The New 52? represents his first exposure to today’s monthly superhero serials. So far, he’s read six of them, and he wants more. His favorite: Grant Morrison‘s first issue of Action Comics, with its rebel-in-bluejeans Superman, DC’s latest bid to make the icon “relevant.” Whatever that means. If it means “Make the Man of Steel neat to a 10 year old videogame-playing/Star Wars-loving/sports junkie/funky-haired boy,” then well done. His wide-eyed, one-word review: “Cool.”

And I agree. Action was a ripping read. I also thought the first issues of Batgirl and OMAC were witty fun thanks to their impish scribes, Gail Simone and Keith Giffen. But the other #1s haven’t impressed this 41-year-old grump the way they’ve impressed his son. So far, most of them remind me of this year’s slate of TV pilots (that I’ve seen): Lots of solid, competent stuff, but way too safe, way too set-uppy, and nothing that blows me away or leaves me convinced: “This will be around for seasons to come.”

My biggest beef with many of the #1s is that they read more like expressions of tightly-synchronized brand management than artistic vision. There’s very little verve and risk, even from the line’s edgier titles. Perhaps that will come in time. Baby steps! Animal Man has the sensational Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County) at the helm. His pilot issue begins with a clever magazine article – a QA from The Believer – that suggests a colorful, complex central character. But the Buddy Baker we get to know in the storytelling that follows doesn’t deliver the intriguing personality suggested by the prose. Maybe Lemire was going for paradox; alas, in this issue, it plays like muddled execution. Good news: The creepy-compelling final pages – concerning the introduction of the story’s villains and a revelation about Animal Man’s daughter — ignite the whole thing and make you want the next issue NOW. I have high expectations of Lemire. Such is the price of producing extraordinary previous work. I want him reinvent and rock Animal Man and DC’s supernatural mythos with his peculiar, emotionally rich voice the way Jonathan Hickman has rocked and reinvented the Fantastic Four and Marvel’s science hero mythos with his uniquely heady sensibility. Here’s hoping he can step it up in the months to come.

“The New 52” has also annoyed me with its overt effort to cultivate a Marvel-esque shared universe. I don’t dislike the concept. But when it gets in the storyteller’s way of establishing a vision – or just telling a damn story — it pisses me off. Scott Snyder is a talented scribe, but his first issue of Swamp Thing included a momentum-killing four-page sequence in which Superman flies in to chat with Alec Holland about his titular alter-ego’s strange life and even stranger relationship with a woman that fans know to be Abigail Arcane. The scene told us something about Holland, for sure. But it missed an opportunity to hook us by engaging our emotions with real drama, which is to say, by giving us a scene between Alex and Abby herself. The first issue needed to accomplish this mission:  Explain and make interesting to new readers not familiar with recent events the central character’s core conflict — his tricky-murky relationship with the heroic earth elemental that borrowed his identity for a couple decades worth of comics. Snyder might have succeeded if he had four more pages – or could have made different use of the four pages given to Superman’s intrusive special guest start stint.

The other complaint I have about “The New 52” reboot: Not enough “new.” With a couple exceptions, like Morrison’s Action Comics, many of the titles – Animal Man and Swamp Thing included — seem too indebted to past work to count as bold new takes. As I said earlier, I enjoyed OMAC, which did what I wanted Swamp Thing to do: The first issue is one long smartly designed action sequence that serves to reveal, via drama and incident, the central character’s surreeal identity crisis. But I hope the comic has grander ambitions than merely being an affectionate recycling of Jack Kirby quirk. I also hope it can rise to the standard of Godland, a soon-to-end indy series and superior Kirby homage published by Image Comics.

I have singled out Swamp Thing, Animal Man and OMAC this week because once upon a time, in their previous iterations, each of these titles represented, in some symbolic way, the energy that the comic book industry needs more than anything: Inspired, intelligent, gutsy, gonzo, go-for-broke creativity. It would be great if “The New 52” could develop into an HBO-esque showcase for daring showrunners challenged to do capture-the-imagination work – the kind of stuff Hickman and Nick Pitarra are doing on The Red Wing or Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba Fabio Moon on Casanova.

Still, I understand and even support DC’s bid to streamline and simplify its universe to attract a new generation of consumers and fans. The future of the biz is my son, not me. Kudos to DC Comics for the energy they are bringing to the medium. Hopefully the messages become stronger and bolder In the year – or season – to come.

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

From: http://shelf-life.ew.com/2011/09/11/should-comic-books-emulate-the-tv-biz-plus-more-reviews-of-the-new-52/

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales

After what I would consider a lackluster first showing in Justice League #1, the second week of DC’s New 52 had a lot of ground to cover from my perspective, as a comic reader, and as a person holding out hope that this massive overhaul would bring in and maintain new readers.

Week 2 of the New 52 saw the release of some laughable titles like O.M.A.C. #1 and Hawk Dove #1, one of the most talked about and controversial relaunches of the New 52 in Batgirl #1, and two of the DC Universe’s heaviest hitters in two of the most well known comic titles in the history of the industry; Batman in Detective Comics #1, and Superman in Action Comics #1.  Batman had already hogged most of the spotlight in Justice League #1, but we only got a glimpse of the new Superman for this new universe.  Action Comics #1 expands upon this new direction for arguably the most biggest name in superheroism.

Action Comics #1, a title and numbering not seen since June 1938, had a lot working against it in my eyes, including my disinterest in the Superman character, and my frothing hatred for the prose of the book’s writer, Grant Morrison.  However, not only did Action Comics #1 give me a new take on Superman that errs on the side of the vigilante Batman, but Morrison’s writing was mostly devoid of his usual flair for the ridiculous, non-sensical, and pretentious.

Superman arrived in Metropolis some 6 months ago, and is dealing out his own brand of justice, while feared and hunted by the very city he has come to protect.  This Kal-El (we can assume his birth name is still Kal-El in this universe, right?) isn’t the red, white, and blue boyscout of Superman past.  This Superman is violent, cocky, and morally questionable.  It seems as if his drive to protect the innocent isn’t that of “truth, justice, and the American way”, but more of a tic, an obsessive-compulsion that forces his hand to save a building of civilians from an incoming wrecking ball.  Surely, the “classic” Superman is in there, somewhere, but this iteration is too concerned with corruption in the private sector and the Metropolis PD to play nice.

While Justice League #1 dilly-dallied, dragging out the narrative to accommodate the final page reveal, and bait-and-switched new readers with a cover featuring the entire team, only half of which appeared in the first issue, Action Comics #1 hits all of the prerequisites of an introductory Superman book.  To the book’s namesake, it’s action-packed.  Superman does some major damage, showcasing his bevy of skills in the process.  AND, most importantly, the yin to Superman’s yang, Lex Luthor, figures prominently into the story and the cliffhanger of the first issue.  That being said, how much does Grant Morrison want to be a real-life Lex Luthor?  He’s one doomsday device away from a manifesto, methinks.

In conclusion, Action Comics #1 was one of the most accessible, well-written and drawn Superman books I’ve ever picked up, and is exactly the type of story DC needs to tell in the beginning of this New 52 universe, for new and old fans alike.  If only this book, as well as Detective Comics #1, were released on week 1 of the New 52 along with Justice League #1, I’d wager that DC would’ve held onto more new readers.

4 out of 5 ‘GD‘s


–Knize

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From: http://panelsonpages.com/?p=42878&cpage=1

Superfriends rally to help collector whose Superman collection was stolen

But that isn’t stopping the Superfriends of Metropolis. Their TroublAlert went off when a member posted on Facebook about Meyer’s misfortune, and they’re assembling to help.

The Superfriends are a Superman fan club drawn together from across the country, friends who meet at the Metropolis, Ill., Superman Festival every year. Now the Superfriends are arranging a massive international effort to replace as much of the lost collection as possible.

Coordinated by Keith Howard of Belleville, the packages have already started to arrive.

“People could have just thrown some old T-shirt or hat in a box, but people are really personalizing this,” Howard said. “I’d never heard of this group in Indiana or in Cleveland… People in Canada are sending me packages.”

Artists are drawing sketches and autographing them for Meyer. Original Superman artwork from Paraguay is on its way. Fans are buying Superman items and shipping them directly to Belleville.

A California fan group has contacted actress Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane opposite George Reeves in the original TV series, for an autograph. Neill in fact met Meyer once, Howard said — when Meyer attended the Metropolis Festival several years ago, he got to meet her and stand in Superman’s place beside her for a few minutes. Other celebrities, including Tracy Lewis of the “Superboy” series and Mark Tyler Nobleman, author of “Boys of Steel,” are sending autographed items.

A comic-shop owner in Cincinnati — hometown of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — is arranging a memorial brick from one of the creators’ houses with a plaque for Meyer. They have offered to fly Meyer and a close friend out for a day’s tour of the Superman museums and tourist sites there.

Local comic shops have been approached about donating merchandise. Other fan groups have joined with the Superfriends — the cross-denominational Justice League Avengers of Indiana are coordinating their own drive to get Superman memorabilia.

“I was not surprised by the initial response from our group members because they’re my friends,” said Kristina Johnson, who began a Superfriends Facebook page for the effort that numbered 570 “friends” by Friday afternoon. It has been cross-posted in high-traffic sites like Blogarama, Tumblr, the Spiderman Crawlspace and The Nerdy Bird.

“Superman fans are truly a special kind of people,” Johnson said.

And all this is still a secret from Meyer. In two weeks, Howard and several Superfriends will deliver the new collection to Meyer, in costume. Howard is a surgical nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and volunteers at Children’s Hospital dressed in his Reeves-era Superman costume. He’ll be in that costume to deliver the presents, along with his daughter in her Supergirl outfit and other fans.

“You see the kind of heart (Meyer’s) got,” Howard said. “He made a mistake, he allowed this guy in his house, and it really hurt Mike quit a bit.”

But a close friend of Meyer’s, Bill Smith, talked him into going public with the theft, at the very least to warn local comic dealers to be wary of memorabilia suddenly on the market.

“(Meyer) knows he’s getting a visit from a handful of people associated with the Superfriends, but he doesn’t know about the gifts,” Howard said.

Meanwhile, Granite City police are investigating the theft. No update on the investigation was available.

Anyone interested in donating Superman items to the effort is asked to send them to Keith Howard, 920 Express Drive, Belleville, Ill., 62223. Superman items only are being accepted; no monetary donations.

From: http://www.bnd.com/2011/09/09/1853535/superfriends-rally-to-help-collector.html

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