Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Green Arrow #1 - I Called It!

SOURCE: Krul & GREEN ARROW: Star City's "Outlaw For the People"

"See, I told you we were emulating Robin Hood. The greatest part about the forest in Star City is that it has a two-fold effect on Green Arrow. First and foremost, it reinforces that Robin Hood vibe, and gives Ollie a place to call his own as he plays the part of a true outcast. It's not like Batman, where he is embraced by the authorities. Green Arrow is considered a threat by the powers that be, but the general citizenry knows he is on their side. On a completely other level, the forest plays into the whole mystery behind Brightest Day. The forest is strange and mysterious and not just because of its origins."

Warner Brothers hates kittens and joy...

SOURCE: DC Animated Projects Canceled

The Bad News: Warner Brothers has not only canceled plans for sequels to the animated Green Lantern and Wonder Woman movies - they have canceled plans for ALL the proposed projects based on DC Comics properties, including adaptations, of Batgirl: Year One, Batman: Hush, Batman: The Long Halloween and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

The Worse News: Despite this, Judd Winick's Batman: Under The Hood is STILL coming out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 2: The Beast Below

Right. Delayed a day due to some sort of programming bug messing up the DVRs of both of my friends who have BBC America. Luckily the rerun was tonight and I was able to catch it.



The Doctor and Amy Pond arrive on The Starship UK - a ship containing the whole of the United Kingdom - flying through space, fleeing an Earth made uninhabitable by solar flares. Breaking out of observation mode in order to investigate a crying girl who is being steadily ignored by the people around her, The Doctor discovers that there is something very wrong with the ship.

Joined by a masked woman who calls herself Liz Ten, The Doctor further discovers that the ship somehow moves smoothly through space despite not having any obvious means of propulsion. At the same time, Amy goes investigating on her own, encounters the tentacle of some giant beast and is eventually released into a voting booth, where she is told that she may learn the truth behind the Starship UK and then must choose to either protest the truth or accept it and have her mind erased.

Eventually, The Doctor uncovers the terrible secret of Starship UK on his own. Namely, that it was built around the body of a giant, sentient space whale - the last known member of its' species - and that the creature has been steadily tortured through several centuries in order to keep the people of the UK safe on their journey. The Doctor is ready to damage the whale's brain, allowing it to hold the ship together and continue traveling but without feeling any further pain. This would, it is pointed out, effectively be the same as killing it but the Doctor is not in any mood to hear backtalk from the people responsible for enslaving a creature like this in the first place.

It is Amy who realizes that while the whale has been force fed numerous "protesters", it had never eaten any of the children that were tossed to it. Making a connection between The Doctor and the space-whale - both the last of their kind - Amy realizes that the whale showing up was no miracle, as the history of the Starship UK says. The space whale heard the screams of the children dying in the disaster that threatened the Earth and came to help. It is Amy who deactivates the controls holding the whale back... but the Starship continues to function and the whale actually swims faster than ever.

As the two are getting ready to depart, a phone rings inside The TARDIS. The man on the other end of the phone is Winston Churchill. And he tells The Doctor that he thinks he will need his help very soon... as the shadow of a Dalek falls upon the wall behind his desk...


* The scene where The Doctor explains his logic in figuring out several basic facts about the sort of society he is walking into based on how he people are reacting (or rather NOT reacting) to a crying girl is very well done. It explains how The Doctor seems to know so much even when he is walking into a place that he couldn't know anything about.

* Amy proves to be a very resourceful - if somewhat reluctant, at first - companion. She's naturally curious, as we see her move behind a "KEEP OUT" sign and start picking the locks on the doors there. And we definitely see some nerve and attitude when she tells off The Doctor after he condemns her for trying to hide the horrible truth of the Starship UK from him.

* The doll-like Smilers are a suitably creepy robotic villain and well in keeping with Moffat's ability to find the horrors in the mundane aspects of childhood.


* It's a little unbelievable that The Doctor is shown to have a fine deductive mind and yet he misses the rather obvious connection between the children being actively spared by "The Beast" and The Beast being far more intelligent and friendly than it seems.

* The relationship between The Eleventh Doctor and Amy is already seemingly a little derivative of Rose and The Ninth Doctor. The ordinary working-class girl who is a calming influence on an angry, vengeful demi-god.

* The no-win situation Moffat proposes here is a great philosophical point... but one has to wonder why on Earth any engineer would develop a system that causes the whole thing to stop working - as well as the utter collapse of society and the death of millions - if The Queen has a brief moment of guilt and pushes a button.


... he's kind of a dick.

It's in the same way that The Third Doctor was kind of a dick and The Sixth Doctor was REALLY a dick. He's already coming across as much more alien and more oblivious than any recent incarnation of The Doctor.

For instance, he drags Amy into a futuristic marketplace, not noticing or - once she points it out - caring that she is running around in public in her nightgown. Granting that it IS a modest nightgown.... still! He's also very quick to push Amy - who is still adjusting to the whole idea of what he is - into the standard companion role. He abandons her to go investigate the ship engines on his own while she is supposed to talk to the crying girl and figure out why she is upset. The Standard Doctor/Companion ploy of "you talk to the people and charm them while I'll figure out what's going on here."

Eleven is also a lot quicker to jump to violent solutions than Ten was and he's certainly a lot quicker to anger, getting a very nice speech after he learns the truth about Starship UK, in which he says that nobody who is human has any right lecturing him about his plan to turn the space whale into a vegetable just so that it will stop feeling pain.

This actually fits in nicely with a theory of my own regarding how The Doctor changes with each regeneration... but that is for another time.

The Final Verdict: Probably Moffat's weakest story with The Doctor to date. It isn't bad but there are some logical problems with the base concept- brilliant though it is as a philosophical exercise. Amy is growing as a companion but The Eleventh Doctor is proving to be a much harsher man than Ten was and I'm not sure I like the change.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #53

GOOD THING: The book managed to actually surprise me with the revelation that Sinestero's appearance in Brightest Day #0 seems to have been born out of an honest desire to protect the universe rather than some sinister plot (no pun intended) to gain the power of the White Light.

BAD THING: While we do get some updates as to what the various Color Corps are up to, some of them are given short shrift. The Inidigo Lanterns don't appear at all. The business of the Red Lanterns is limited to what may as well be an print advertisement for several upcoming stories in other books. And the Blue Lantern scene, while nice, is limited to a single page.

The Final Verdict: Much like Brightest Day #0, this issue seems to be setting up quite a bit for the future. But like that issue, and like a block of marble a sculptor has just begun to chip away at, it is too early to tell even the shape of what is to come. Still, it's a solid issue if not exactly the best starting point for someone who is - for some reason - just getting onto the Green Lantern band wagon now. Get them a copy of Green Lantern: Rebirth instead.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Power Girl #11

GOOD THING: A brilliant fight scene takes up most of the issue, with Power Girl having to face off against the mind of mad-scientist Ultra Humanite in the body of a teenage girl who is powerful enough to move the tectonic plates of the Earth itself.

BAD THING: The ending - in which Terra AND The Ultra Humanite are cloned new bodies thanks to the magical technology of the underground land Terra was born in - comes off was a bit too Deus Ex Machina, despite the good scene where PeeGee actually tries to talk the Ultra Humanite into starting over as a good guy.

The Final Verdict: While I question whether or not the villains would honestly preserve the brain of the girl whose body they stole and the ending is awfully convenient, I still liked this issue a lot. It's still one of the most fun, best illustrated books on the shelf.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #6

GOOD THING: It's good to see a confident, practical and - dare I say - ruthless Sonja again after reading the all-around disaster that is Wrath of the Gods. As this issue opens, we are just coming into Sonja's second year as queen and things are not well. Ignoring the attacks of enemies on all sides (which is, naturally, Sonja's main concern), there is unrest among the nobles who are pushing for Sonja to take a King and a famine which blights the land. It is an interesting idea to put Sonja in the same position as Conan was thrust into in his own tales. and it seems that so far she is adjusting as well as he.

BAD THING: This was not much of an issue before, but there is very little definable difference between the former ruler's daughters, who have become Sonja's personal guard and closest confidants - apart from their hair color. Why is that a problem? Because I had to reread the last few issues a few times to puzzle out whether or not this black-haired would-be princess was a new character or if it was Sonja's field commander Janay in disguise.

The Final Verdict: A good solid issue and a good jumping-on point for the new series, marred only by some artwork that is overly dark at times and a supporting cast that is not as well defined as it could be. Still, this is the best Red Sonja story we've seen in quite a while and that counts for a lot.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 1: The Eleventh Hour

As some of you who aren't fans may have heard, a new season of Doctor Who just started with a new actor (Matt Smith) playing the titular Doctor. I've been approached by friends who aren't fans asking me if this would be a good time to get into the show and friends who are fans asking me what I think of the new series.

So by popular request, personal inclination, a desire to help ease some new Whovians into the show and a desire to put a more diverse line of geeky content on this blog, I have decided to begin writing upon my thoughts on the new season of Doctor Who.


Okay. First things first - Who is The Doctor?

No, this isn't going to lead into an Abbot and Costello routine.

Doctor Who centers upon a character known only as The Doctor. He claims to be just over 900 years old and is, despite looking perfectly human, an alien. He is also the last surviving member of a group known as The Time Lords.

The Time Lords were, as you might guess from the name, Lords (and Ladies!) of Time. They were able to travel anywhere in time and space using devices called TARDISes - Time And Relative Dimension In Space. At some point in the past, The Time Lords got into a war with various evil alien races - chief among them the war-mongering Daleks - and the conflict between the two races spread out into a vast conflict that became known in legend as The Time War.

The good news is that for the most part (some survivors keep showing up in small groups) The Daleks were totally wiped out and it was as if they never existed. The bad news is that all The Time Lords, save The Doctor, were basically erased from the timeline along with the Daleks.

The Doctor now wanders the universe and all of the time stream, going where he fancies but usually finding people in need and wrongs in need of righting. He has a particular fondness for Earth, however, and frequently takes on companions whom he delights in showing the wonders of the universe.

One other thing must be mentioned: why there have been several Doctors and why The Doctors are usually referred to by number (The Fourth Doctor, The Seventh Doctor, etc.)

The Time Lords have a unique ability called Regeneration that allows them to cheat death for a limited number of times (12 to be exact) in cases of extreme old age or severe physical trauma. The Time Lord's physical body reshapes itself as does - usually - some aspects of The Doctor's mind and personality. While the core of The Doctor's personality remains the same (all of The Doctors have been curious and intelligent), other aspects - such as how likely they are to choose a physical fight over a cunning plan - are changed with each regeneration.

As the new series opens, The Doctor has just regenerated into his 11th body.

The show has always favored dramatic openings, with every version of The Doctor having their own unique introduction.

As you can see, each opening shares common themes. All of them depict something in motion, be it the Doctor's own face or his TARDIS. All of them show this motion through space or some sort of ever-shifting extra-dimensional space. And since The Fifth Doctor, all of them have their own unique remix of the Doctor Who theme.

So how does the new intro stack up against the older ones? See for yourself!

Personally, I think it's a worthy continuation of the line. Replacing the more vague blue/red Doppler shift of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors with blue storms and red lava fields gives the introduction an even greater sense of motion and danger. Lighting strikes the TARDIS, for crying out loud! Mixed with the more orchestral version of the Doctor Who theme, this opening creates a greater sense of urgency

Along with the new Doctor, the show has a new head honcho - Steven Moffat. Despite being new to the command post, Moffat is no stranger to Doctor Who having been a writer for the show ever since it the series was revived in 2005. Indeed, many fans believe that his episodes (including The Doctor Dances, The Girl In The Fireplace and Blink) are among the best episodes in the new series, if not THE best.

He wrote this first episode of the new season, The Eleventh Hour and it is true to his usual form. More than any other writer on the new series, Moffat seems to understand and honor Doctor Who's roots as a children's program. Nearly all of Moffat's Doctor Who work to date has been based around ideas that are - and understand that this not an insult - childlike. The sort of waking nightmare ideas that you have as a child where everything in the world is new... and at times, very very frightening. And you see the evils and think of dangers that no adult would ever think of because they know that you're a silly child and that such things do not happen.

Living shadows who can eat you alive in milliseconds if you step out of the light. Fireplaces that are portals in time and space a young girl can call for help through. Angel statues that are the most dangerous killers in the universe the minute you take your eyes off them. Such are the mundane horrors that Moffat introduced so effectively that many grown adults have reported being nervous around angel statues after watching Blink.

The Eleventh Hour starts off with a perfect note and the perfect metaphor for The Doctor as a character. Crashed on Earth and left with little to do as he waits for his TARDIS to repair itself, The Doctor is asked by a Amelia Pond - the young girl whose backyard he crashed in - to take a look at the crack in the wall of her bedroom because it scares her.

Now THAT is a perfectly childish thing to be afraid of. Crack in the wall. Totally harmless in and of itself. True, it may be a sign of a foundation problem that could cause the whole house to collapse on you, but that's a rather remote possibility and the crack itself isn't a dangerous thing.

It is in these scenes with The Doctor and the young Amelia Pond that we start to get a feeling for this New Doctor and how he relates to The Doctor as a whole. Of course The Doctor is wise enough to know to trust the feelings of children and sure enough - the crack turns out to be far more than it seems. But in this scene - and throughout the episode - The Doctor is treated like an imaginary friend made flesh - The Raggedy Doctor they call him, due to his clothes being a bit torn after the TARDIS crash.

And that makes perfect sense, because at his core, The Doctor is the manifest dream of what all young children wish for adults to be and most of them dream of in an imaginary friend at some point or another. He knows everything but is more than willing to listen to you. He's a child at heart when it comes to seeing new things and exploring but he has an adult's wisdom. And he's more than capable of fighting the monsters in the closet that force you to hide behind the couch.

Anyway, The Doctor tries to get the TARDIS repaired and offers to take Amelia for a ride after he takes a brief five minute trip to get things recharged. Five minutes, however, becomes 12 years and The Doctor quickly finds himself being assaulted by a grown up Amy Pond, who has apparently become a policewoman but never forgotten about The Raggedy Doctor, despite years of therapy.

The two are forced to unite, despite Amy's misgivings, as it becomes clear that a monster escaped to Earth through the crack in her wall and the wardens of its' prison are ready to destroy the Earth rather than let it get away.

I'd like another episode or two to fully judge Matt Smith but so far... I'm cautiously optimistic. I admit to being worried when I first saw a picture of Mr. Smith and thought "Ick! He's way too young and he's got Emo Hair and he looks like a dork in that outfit!" Wisely, Moffat has Smith start out in David Tennant's old suit and his hair - at first - somewhat resembles Tennant's trademark spiky hair-do. As the episode progresses, Smith gradually changes more and more of his appearance and clothing until finally - near the end - he is in his "uniform" as it were. And he manages to establish who he is - in a scene similar to one David Tennant had in his first story, when confronting a group of would be alien invaders. And he does so with a greater economy of language.

Hello, I'm The Doctor. Basically... run.

It's a bit early to tell, but... I think the new kid is going to be alright. And I comfort myself in knowing that it took a few episodes for me to get used to David Tennant too.

I'm also enjoying Karen Gillan as Amy Pond. She seems to have combined Donna Noble's nerve with Rose Tyler's adventurous spirit to create something that is... well, not wholly definable yet. Still, it says a lot that she winds up knocking out The Doctor, tries to bluff him with her costume (she's really a Kiss-o-gram girl in a policewoman's costume - not a real cop) and is ready to keep him bound and helpless until she gets an explanation for his just randomly appearing in her house.

Besides... redhead with a Scottish accent... what's not to like?

The Final Verdict: It's not the best episode ever. It's not even the best introductory episode ever. (Rose still holds that honor, in my opinion.) But it is a solid episode and a good start for the new season, the new Doctor and the new show runner. I can't wait for the next episode.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Thought on The Trial of Oliver Queen

Ollie should never have gone to trial for the same reason Barry Allen should have never gone to trial according to legal expert and comic geek, Bob Ingersoll.

"Go back and examine exactly what happened in Flash #324. Flash was racing to save a life. Reverse-Flash had already stated his intention to kill Fiona Webb, and Flash was saving her life. Unfortunately, in saving Fiona Webb's life, Flash broke Reverse-Flash's neck and killed him.

That, readers, is called self-defense A.K.A. justifiable homicide. The legal doctrine of self-defense is not limited solely to the defense of one's self. One is also allowed to defend others.

More specifically Flash could defend Fiona Webb and invoke self-defense to protect himself. And in defending Fiona, Flash would be permitted to use exactly the same amount of force Fiona could have used, if she were defending herself.

Reverse-Flash was going to kill Fiona. Legally she could have used any amount of force in defending herself, even deadly force, force sufficient to kill the attacker. If Fiona could have used deadly force against Reverse-Flash, then Flash could have used the same deadly force in defending Fiona. Thus, even though Flash did kill Reverse-Flash, he committed no crime. His act was a justifiable homicide. "

The same logic should apply to Ollie and Prometheus, right? He had killed. He was ready to kill again. And there was nothing to stop him from killing again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly of Brightest Day #0

Quite a bit happens in this book. Some of it looks interesting. Some of it doesn't. Some of it seems like filler. Wanna know more? Look behind the cut. Spoilers and Images behind the cuts, as always.

1. Deadman...LIVES? - Honestly, this is one of those concepts I'm amazed nobody has thought to do in something else before. And putting an already unbalanced Boston Brand in charge of the White Light... brilliant.

2. Barry Checks Up On His Rogues - This brief scene was a lot better paced than The Flash #1 and a heck of a lot more fun. But I suppose I am biased being a bit of a Captain Boomerang fan.

3. Carter and Shiera, Together Again - I forgot how much I missed Geoff Johns' Hawkman and this brief scene brought all the fondness for that series back in a rush... even before the interesting hook of Hawkman's gauntlet apparently now being enhanced by The Power Of Love.

4. J'onn's Housewarming Party - I'm glad to see J'onn back. And I laughed out loud when I saw Guy's gift, proving that he can be a Nice Guy without getting hit in the head.

5. Star City Goes Green - Okay, improbable as the star-shaped blast in Cry For Justice was... this is just cool. And as I said before... Robin Hood needs a Sherwood. :)

6. Sinestro's Back... - ... and he wants a ring. So any worries about Sinestro no longer being a bad guy now that we know his anti-heroic origins? Gone. Now he's chasing after the White Ring, presumably because only he has earned it after all that he went through.

1. The Return Of Maxwell Lord: Evil Overlord - Honestly, is there ANYONE besides Dan Didio who thought bring Maxwell Lord back was a good idea? Particularly bringing him back as the uber-telepath would-be world-ruler who is, at least according to the story going into the new Justice League: Generation Lost, powerful enough to make nearly everyone on the planet forget he ever existed?

Well, that's just great. But what about the video archives of his death? The print archives and the digital archives of the print archives? Telepathy can't erase newspapers. And the Greek Gods who already intervened once when someone tried to mind control Wonder Woman (see Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, if you must)

2. The Return Of Jade - Speaking of resurrections nobody wanted, Jade's return is proving to be as horrendous as I thought. Because it's impossible for Kyle Rayner to be in a committed relationship and just be happy, we're treated to a lot of forced drama as Kyle's current girlfriend seethes over the ex-being alive and well, even as she insists that she's not making a play for Kyle and Kyle insisting that he's just happy an old friend is alive... while grinning like an idiot in a way that never happens around women who are "just friends"... although that could be the fault of the artist.

3. The Fury Of Firestorm - And speaking of forced drama... wow! Who could have predicted it? A white idiot man-child and an angry the black man who (rightly, I think) hates his guts are forced to work together to access their amazing superpowers to Save The World!

I liked this comic better when it was called Quantum And Woody.

1. The Scene With Aquaman and Mera - It's good character stuff. But it doesn't really seem to set anything up or accomplish anything except giving us hot soaking-wet redhead babe fan service and the leading nominee for the two panels "Most Likely To Wind Up On Superdickery".

2. The Return of Osiris - Hardly anyone cared when he died in 52. And hardly anybody cares now that he's back. Hell, I'm indifferent to the Marvel Family as a whole after what they did to Mary Marvel.

3. Hank Hall: Rapist Asshat - Really. Here's one more person who just needed to stay dead. Am I the only one who remembers that this guy (or at least, a version of him from a parallel timeline where he didn't die) ACTUALLY RAPED DOVE back in JSA? Just checking.

Now taking bets on how long it will be before The Monarch shows up again. And I don't mean the skinny guy in orange from The Venture Brothers.

The Final Verdict: More good than bad, though much of the book seems to be filler and we're still left wondering why a lot of these characters were brought back at all. Presumably there will be some method to the madness later on. Still worth picking up, in my opinion, if only so what happens later may make more sense.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #20

GOOD THING: Catman is now in the dictionary next to the entry for "awesome".

BAD THING: The idea of splitting the team up - and replacing the four characters who have been around since the beginning - is somewhat of a concern to me, even though I know this is likely building to a battle over who the real Six will eventually be.

The Final Verdict: Still the darkest and somehow the funniest read on the shelves today.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About The Flash #1

BAD THING: Most of the book is devoted to setting Barry Allen back up in his old job, while emphasizing that the Central City Police Department is at more concerned with looking like they are doing something rather than doing the right thing. And if you missed it the first time, don't worry - the emphasis on quantity of cases over quality of cases and how Barry's methodical approach conflicts with the speed his supervisors desire will be made. Several times. This slows the book down in a way I'd find ironically amusing if it weren't so annoying.

GOOD THING: At least there's one interesting hook at the end of the book.

The Final Verdict: For a book about a costumed hero with super-speed, this book sure does move at a snail's pace. The artwork is decent and there's an interesting twist at the end, but it's not enough to keep me reading. I just got this issue for the free Flash Ring. I don't see any reason to pick up Issue 2.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Green Arrow #32 - In Depth Dissection

Let me say this right now - this is NOT a good comic by any stretch of the imagination and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Why? Let me explain...

1. I've never been a big Barry Allen fan and I know that he's supposed to be a conservative American Mid-West, straight-laced, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He's not the kind of guy who is likely go agree with Oliver Queen on much of anything.

That being said, as apathetic as I am to Barry and as little as I know about him as a character outside of JLA: Year One, I am relatively sure he's not supposed to be this big of a douche.

Seriously, Batman wasn't this bad about Hal/Parallax back in the days when Hal was still widely considered to be a genocidal madman!

2. I know it's been a big running gag in the Fandom about how Star City must be the dumbest city in DC Comics to not put two and two together regarding ex-Mayor Oliver Queen and Green Arrow having the same beard. And granting that Nudocerdo isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, you'd expect him to be a little less shocked by the revelation.

3. I mentioned this before but Dinah is HORRIBLY written here and the logic behind her argument here is completely flawed on several grounds.

a. If Ollie really didn't want to be a father, why did he adopt one teenager in need (Roy Harper) and take in another teen runaway (Mia Dearden)?

b. For that matter, out of all the ways he could help the community, why did he take a day job that required him actively working with children and teenagers and acting like a surrogate father? (i.e. running the Star City Youth Center)

c. If Ollie really wants to be alone, why did he bust his ass to win Dinah back in the first place? He allegedly had what he wanted...

d. For that matter, if Ollie has always dodged his responsibilities as a father and wanted to be alone, why did he walk out of Heaven to save his son when he had a nice meadow where he was alone and able to practice his archery in peace when he was playing "Race The Arrow" with his good pal Barry Allen?

Wait... what?

e. Even if you dismiss all of the above as Ollie being a dick who doesn't really know what he wants or his doing a few good things out of guilt, that does nothing to dismiss the fact that out of all the drama that occurred after Ollie and Dinah got married, Ollie wasn't at fault for any of it. He wasn't trying to drive a wedge between himself and Dinah during all of that. And he damn well COULD have during all that nonsense with Cupid during the Kreisberg run of Green Arrow/Black Canary.

f. Considering that right before they got married, Dinah was ready to kill the League of Assassins members who kidnapped her adopted daughter Sin, probably would have if it hadn't been for Ollie's actions and that she damn near killed Merlyn regardless, Dinah is the last person in the world who should give Ollie ANY grief about questionable choices in the heat of the moment when things get personal.

I'm just saying...

4. I'd just like to note at this point that the ARTWORK IS HORRIBLE and that if it weren't for the super-imposition of the costumes and the writing noting that Dinah, Roy and Connor didn't show up for the trial, I'd think that these three characters were Dinah, Roy (with the wrong color hair) and Connor - Not Mia, Hal and Barry!

5. Speak of Barry, did I mention that Barry Allen comes off as the Fastest Douche Alive throughout this issue?

Just checking.

That being said, I do like Ollie's response to the bet.

6. The trial itself brings up a whole mess of problems.

a. Why doesn't Ollie just plead Guilty to the charges? - We're led to believe that Ollie is truly remorseful for what he did and believes he deserves punishment. Well, I can think of a few reasons why he would allow things to go to trial. The biggest one being that he wants to deny Nudocerdo the victory of getting Oliver Queen to admit that he is a lawbreaker in court. Bad as Ollie may think he is, Nudocerdo is worse and anything he can do to improve his image MUST be stopped. Still, it would be nice if it were explained WHY Ollie allows things to go to trial.

b. We never get to hear any of Ollie's defense. - It's a minor point since Ollie doesn't have much of a defense but it would be nice to see how his attorney might go about doing it. Especially considering that there's a slew load of technicalities that could easily see the whole case tossed out of court. For instance...

c. Can Ollie be put on trial in Star City anyway? - The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that an American citizen can only be brought up on criminal charges in "the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed". Ollie killed Prometheus inside an extra dimensional space (i.e. The Ghost Zone). That's a bit outside the jurisdiction of the Star City D.A's office, even if the body was eventually recovered IN Star City.

d. How can they get an impartial jury in Star City? - Another important part of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution is the concept of an impartial jury. This is important to both the defense and the prosecution. So why is the Star City's D.A.'s office - ignoring the fact that they don't have jurisdiction over a crime committed in the Ghost Zone to begin with - willing to let this case go to trial, much less push for a speedy trial, so soon after the disaster which Green Arrow was nominally avenging?

e. Star City District Attorneys have GOT to be appointed... ... because I don't think there's any way in hell any D.A. who is elected to their office - even a crooked one in with the crooked Police Chief - is going to commit career suicide on this level. Even with all the people in Star City who hate Green Arrow/Oliver Queen for one reason (bleeding heart liberal) or the other (dangerous vigilante), most people are going to be a little peeved that the D.A's office is going to go through the effort of rushing to trial the case of a man who did what he did - at least in part - to prevent further damage to the city.

f. What kind of case does the Prosecution really have? There's no eye-witnesses of the actual murder. The Shade isn't there to testify that he took Green Arrow to the Ghost Zone. Flash and Green Lantern aren't there to testify that they found the body. And given how many times somebody has tried to impersonate Green Arrow in the past, finding a green arrow in the body is hardly conclusive. Add in the fact that Ollie turned himself in but apparently didn't formally confess to the crime and all the prosecution has is a lot of hearsay and guessing.

Of course as bad as the trial is, this is all small potatoes compared to...

7. The Aftermath.

According to attorney Dr. Ronald B. Standler in his article Differences between Civil and Criminal Law in the USA, the only punishments a judge can assign a person found Guilty in a criminal case are "(1) incarceration in a jail or prison, (2) fine paid to the government, or, in exceptional cases, (3) execution of the defendant: the death penalty."

Note also that there is no mention of Exile being a valid punishment in any American court.

Ipso facto, a judge cannot impose any form of punishment after a jury has passed a Not Guilty verdict. And declaring a punishment of Exile in an American court after a jury has found someone Not Guilty is right out!

All that being said, I am still looking forward to and am planning to pick up Green Arrow #1.

Why? I'll explain under this next cut.

Okay. So the artwork was horrible. The plot was nonsensical. Everybody except Ollie and Hal seemed to be written horribly out of character. And the whole damn thing reeks of Executive Meddling to an even worse degree than Justice League: Cry For Justice did! You can almost see the checklist J.T. Krul must have been given.

Break up Ollie and Dinah so Dinah is free for Birds of Prey? Check. Destroy most of Ollie's friendships so we can keep him out of Justice League? Check. Make Ollie a pariah in his home town? Check.

Yes, this book accomplished its' goals in a remarkably clumsy way. Yes, it was like trying to repair a watch with a sledgehammer. And yes, this is easily the worst thing I've read in 2010.

And yet... I am still looking forward to Green Arrow #1. Because while the old painting has been destroyed, a new canvas is before us. And I like what I see so far.

Consider this: As a character Green Arrow was, for most of his early career, nothing more than Batman with a bow. Despite the comparisons to Robin Hood - that great archery hero - Ollie had never, until recently, been a true Robin Hood figure.

In the 1970s, Dennis O'Neil tried to make Green Arrow something more than Batman with a Bow, turning him into a Robin Hood figure in costume and in attitude. He did make Green Arrow a champion of the common man/little guy and he did arrange for Ollie to lose his fortune and have to start over with not much in the slums of Star City.

Despite this, Ollie was never a true Robin Hood figure. But after the straight-laced Silver Age a longish-haired, goatee-sporting Jazz fan was probably the closest thing we could get to a Hippie outlaw in the funny pages.

Even in the grim-and-gritty days of late 80s and early 90s he was never really an outlaw. True, the police weren't too crazy about their new vigilante but they didn't go out of their way to cause him problems either. In fact, Ollie had an open identity and worked with the police on several occasions by the end of the Mike Grell run.

In fact, excepting a brief period during The Black Arrow Saga, Ollie was never a true outlaw. And even then his crimes were false charges meant to stop him from exposing a government conspiracy. The closest to Robin Hood Ollie ever came was in the recent Green Arrow: Year One mini-series, where Ollie became a hunted man in a tropical jungle, fighting to free an enslaved populace on an island paradise turned drug farm.

Consider all of that. And now consider where we stand now.

The fact is... everyone knows Oliver Queen is Green Arrow now.

The fact is... Ollie is an exile and an outlaw in his home town.

The fact is... the populace is split between those who see Ollie as a troublemaker and those who see him as a Hero.

The fact is... the corrupt cop who has lived to make Ollie's life hell is going to have a hell of a lot more pull with the people who hate Green Arrow after this and a hell of a lot more power as a result.

Ollie is now, more than ever, a TRUE Robin Hood.

And he is now, more than ever, the hero Star City needs.

And as of Brightest Night #0, there is now a giant old-growth forest in the middle of Star City - growing into the star-shaped blast-zone created by Prometheus' bomb.

Why? Well, it could be a symbol of rebirth. It could be a symbol of nature triumphing over all. You might even say it's a symbol of something good growing out of the burning pile of slag that was Cry for Justice.

But personally... I think the universe just knows that Robin Hood needs a Sherwood. :)

The Final Verdict: The book stinks. It appears to have been driven entirely by editorial fiat and only some good characterization on the part of our hero makes it readable. That being said, a lot of possibilities have been opened up and I think it likely that J.T. Krul might be able to do for Oliver Queen what, several years ago, Gail Simone did for Dinah Lance.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Green Arrow #32 Preview

I'll be foregoing full commentary on this until I have a chance to read the full issue.

Based on the preview up at Scans Daily, I do feel it safe to make the three following comments.

1. J.T. Krul is even worse at writing Black Canary than Judd Winick and Andrew Kreisberg.

2. J.T. Krul may have read the Mike Grell issues (note the reference to Ollie killing someone being old-hat) but I think he totally missed the point of those stories.

3. If Ollie is really so terrified of being a father and really wants to be alone, WHY IN THE NAME OF THE HOARY HOSTS OF HOGGOTH did he adopt Roy Harper and take-in Mia Dearden?

I'm sure you all can think of numerous other examples of why this "Ollie really wants to be alone deep-down" story doesn't wash. Feel free to list them in the comments.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Warlord #13

GOOD THING: Any worries about this series stagnating in the wake of Travis Morgan's death are killed within the first few pages. A new disaster threatens the land and Tinder finds himself - somewhat reluctantly - assuming his father's role as protector.

BAD THING: The art is inconsistently inked. It is too heavily shadowed at times and too light, causing the art to look sketchy... sometimes on the same page!

The Final Verdict: A new Warlord. A new start. Same old action/adventure we know and love from Mike Grell. Would that he was still doing the art but I suppose you can't have everything.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #6

GOOD THING: A great action scene in which Cinderella confronts her fairy godmother - who turns out to be the villain of the piece.

BAD THING: The subplot involving the shoemaker is rushed to a conclusion. A funny conclusion, true, but it seems like something of an afterthought compared to the rest of the story.

The Final Verdict: A solid mini-series that shows the greatness of the core concept of Fables. Pity it shows more creativity and action than the current series. Here's hoping this leads to Chris Roberson getting more work at Vertigo doing his own original projects as writing Sandman spin-offs got Bill Willingham a shot at doing Fables.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Theories As To How James Robinson Got Nominated For A "Best Writer"Eisner For "Cry For Justice".

SOURCE: 2010 Eisner Nominations

1. Superboy Prime punched reality.

2. Joe Quesada made a deal with the devil in a desperate attempt to keep DC Comics from sweeping the Eisner Awards in all the categories they were nominated for this year and this is the ironic form that Satan's "help" came in.

3. Mark Waid, using his vast collection of Cthuluian artifacts, summoned dread powers Man was not meant to know wot of and had Robinson's name put on the list in an effort to make his own work on Irredeemable seem less evil by comparison.

4. A belated April Fool's Day joke gone horribly awry.

5. A desperate attempt by the judges to keep the DC/Vertigo Fanboy votes from being split between two writers who actually did great work this year. This would also explain how Bill Willingham was nominated for Best Writer for Fables but J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Carey weren't nominated despite their books (The Unwritten and Brave And The Bold) both getting nominated for Best Single Issue Story.

6. As The Oscar is often given out to actors and directors as an apology for The Academy overlooking their older, much better performances, so is The Committee now honoring Robinson for his older, much better work on Starman.

7. God exists and has a great sense of humor.

8. There is no God and we are all alone in a vast, cold indifferent universe.

9. Dan Didio has pictures of at least three of the five Eisner Committee judges knowing a goat in the Biblical sense.

10. The judges are recognizing the fact that while Cry For Justice was quasi-radioactive in its' badness, had it not been for James Robinson's skill as a writer and his willingness to stand up to DC Editorial, it would have been a LOT worse, with whole cities and supporting casts being wiped off the map. Literally.

Add your own theories in the replies.

What a difference five years makes!

So I went back to the Comics Nexus archives, thinking I should post the links to some of my past April Fools Day columns, in lieu of reviews since I can't get my comics until Saturday.

Remember the days when Frank Miller being involved in making a movie WASN'T a scary idea?

Hilarious In Hindsight, I think is the phrase the TVTropers use.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

*sighs* Sometimes, I think I'm TOO good at this prank thing...

Just so we're clear, the rumors of my retirement were greatly exaggerated. The announcement last Thursday regarding my retirement was an April Fool's Day prank.

I guess I should be thankful that five days after April Fool's Day and after altering the original posting to say "It Was All A Joke", I'm STILL getting e-mail from people begging me to come back or wishing me well in retirement. :)

Thank you all for your support and your kind words.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Retirement (Check The Date)

Doubtlessly Judd Winick and Scot Kurtz will be glad to hear this news. I hope the rest of you won't be.

I quit.

Blackest Night #8 was so lackluster and Cry For Justice/Fall of Green Arrow so sub-par that I've lost what little love I have left for DC Comics. And since it is rather hard to do a comics review blog when you don't read anything else except Conan and Knights of the Dinner Table... well, it's difficult.

So I'm closing down Looking To The Stars, effective immediately.

So long and thanks for all the fish, folks.

UPDATE: For those of you outside the USA,