Thursday, May 31, 2012

Demon Knights #7-9: A Review

When you get right down to it, the major theme of Demon Knights is Lies and Secrets.  Nearly every character has at least one secret they are keeping and most of them are lying to protect it.  Sir Jason O' The Blood is bound to a demon, that he tries to keep hidden.  The Amazon Exoristos has been exiled from her homeland for reasons she will not discuss.  And the mysterious Horsewoman has powers beyond explanation, yet is guarded about leaving the back of her beloved steed.  Even the characters who seem to be direct, if not entirely honest, prove to be liars of a kind at some point or another.

Case in Point: Issue #7 concludes the opening story arc, as the barbarian Vandal Savage - presumed to be a traitor - returns to aid his comrades and/or to loot the treasure trove of the wicked Questing Queen, to whom he had recently re-sworn his allegiance.  As treacherous in the past as he is in the present-day DCU, Savage's promises are worth less than the good steel he carries.  Yet the party tolerates him as he is a better ally than an enemy and they have no way of proving that he wasn't switching sides to whichever was most convenient at the time.  

This scene also showcases one of the finer points of this book.  It is a glorious fantasy epic, yes.  And it is a treat for we DC Comics history geeks who love the conceit of having all of these characters who were around during medieval times interacting with one another.  But what really makes me thrill to this book month after month is Cornell's sly humor, which is as razor sharp today as it was when I was first exposed to it in his Knight and Squire title.

Issue #8 is an excellent one-shot story and a good jumping-on point for new readers.  With a chance to rest now that the battle which united them is over, the Demon Knights (as they are now called) press Sir Jason and the sorceress Madame Xanadu for details about how their unusual relationship came to be.  More, they ask - and we discover - why "Xan" offers herself up as a lover to Jason's demonic half, Etrigan.   

This issue is deeply touching a true tragic romance.  We find out that Jason and Xanadu have known each other back in the days of Camelot and that "Xan" had been Merlin's prize pupil and Jason was Merlin's personal scribe.  But as Etrigan reminds us in the final pages, there are several ways a story can be true depending on the teller.  And for all her talk of loving the noble Sir Jason, there is much darkness in Xanadu's soul and many things she's done that would make kissing a demon seem tame by comparison.

Issue #9 is another excellent introductory issue for new readers.  Indeed, the issue opens with a roll-call of our main cast as they are spied on from afar and their talents and what little we know of some of their backstories is recounted.  Having arrived in the city of Alba Sarum, which they had been fighting to protect for the past few issues, the Demon Knights are taken before the princesses who rule the land together and are hired to deal with a recent crisis.  Namely, the death of Merlin, who was guesting in the city and whose body seems dead but still does not bleed out despite the wound that was dealt to him. 

I've said little about lead artist Diogenes Neves in all of this.  In truth, there is nothing for me to say except that his artwork is amazing and a perfect balance of form and function.  Each character has an specific individual design that makes them easy to tell apart, even when out of their usual uniform.  This may seem like a small thing but in an industry where too many artists are unable to draw more than a single female form or face, I feel it worth nothing that all of Neves' figures are unique.

This book is a must-read for all fans of quality comics.  If you are a fan of sword-and-sorcery, you will find much here that appeals as will fans of dark comedy and dry humor.   The artwork is gorgeous and of a quality rarely seen on monthly books these days.  And DC Comics history buffs can enjoy themselves just boggling at the concept before they even read the book.

Resurrection Man #7-9 - A Review

As I noted before, the original Resurrection Man title was one of the great lost treasures of late 90s DC Comics and the current series, through the first six issues at least, was proving to be a worthy successor to that legacy.  No small surprise given that the new series was written by the same creative duo as before - authors Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.  Have the issues since then continued the trend of excellence?  For the most part, yes.

 Issue #7, much like Issue #6, is a perfect jumping on point for new readers.  The opening pages not only establish the setting but also explain Mitch Shelley's circumstances and powers. In brief, Shelley is amnesic and remembers very little of his life.  What little he has started to remember suggests he wasn't a very nice person. In addition to his inability to die permanently and his ability to be reborn with a new superpower every time he does die,  Mitch Shelley has also developed a sixth-sense that seems to be guiding him to places where a hero is needed .  In this case, the sense has guided him to Metropolis, where he quickly finds himself stuck in a fire-fight between a MPD SWAT team and Intergang - an organized criminal group who use advanced technology in their crimes.

You couldn't ask for a better one-shot superhero story than this issue.  Abnett and Lanning quickly establish Mitch as a likeable protagonist and a man of principle. Despite his confusion over his past and his desire to get back his life, Mitch is equally determined to be a good man in his new life no matter what he might have been in the past. 

The artwork by Fernando Dagnino matches the story thematically.  Mitch's world is a dark one and the artwork reflects this.  Dagnino's pencils offer many fine details that are brought into sharp relief by the shadowy inks, while still being somewhat obscured in darkness, like Mitch Shelley's memories.

Issue #8 is another good jumping-on issue, with the opening once again reiterating Mitch's amnesia, his powers and his desire to find out who he was and how he became what he is.  The action centers upon two new players - a necromancer/bounty hunter called The Butcher and a clairvoyant detective named Kim Rebecki.  Both of them seek Mitch Shelley, having been apparently hired by separate parties for differing ends.  By issue's end, Mitch has almost formed an uneasy alliance with Rebecki, who seems to know more of Mitch's past than he does.and has come to the conclusion that he isn't the man he once was.

The quality dips a little bit with Issue #9, in which the Body Doubles catch up with Mitch shortly after he is brought down by The Suicide Squad and hilarity ensues.  While Abnett and Lanning's script is strong as ever, the narrative flow is ultimately ruined by the artwork provided by two pencilers and three inkers.- all of whom have completely different and conflicting styles.  Of the two guest artists, Jesus Saiz is by far the least offensive.  His pencils aren't bad but the heavy inks used on his pages do not do his particular style any justice.

More problematic is Andres Guinaldo's pencils, which are under-inked to the point of sketchiness at times.  What is more maddening is that the colorist (surprisingly, there is only one) seems unable to decide on a consistent skin-tone for Kim Rebecki from page to page.  What is worse, he's elected to depict Amanda Waller with a shade of skin that is more orange than brown.  Perhaps, not having read the new Suicide Squad book since the first issue, I have missed out on something?  Did Amanda Waller have some sort of accident with a Cheeto-bomb?  Or was she perhaps bitten by a vampire carrot?   I want to know!

In the end, Resurrection Man is still one of the best books DC Comics has to offer.  It is much better when it is depicted a single artist but even the worst issue of this series has proven to be better than most.  Highly recommended.  Pick up Issue #7 or #8 if you want a good place to jump in.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DC's Latest Gay Hero? Earth 2's Green Lantern, Alan Scott.

SOURCE: Yes, America, It’s Alan Scott

I can't say that I'm at all shocked and I can't say that I'm at all pleased. 

Do not misunderstand me.  I think, given my vast body of work, I can safely be said to be a straight supporter and a friend of the GLBT community.  So please don't think that any objections I might have to Alan Scott having been revamped into a gay man are based on homophobia or a general adverse reaction to change. 

No.  No, my objections are far more complex than that, if somewhat tongue in cheek and based on my imagining the worst possible reasons for precisely why Alan Scott was chosen.  So with that in mind, here's five reasons why we should all be a little annoyed and/or worried about Alan Scott being outed.

1.The Far Too Obvious Jokes

How many times have we heard some variant of this gag over the weekend?  "He gets his powers from a magical flame and his weakness is wood.  Of course he's gay!"  Get used to it.  We're going to be hearing that line a lot from now on.

2. The Slightly Less Obvious Jokes


Granting that he may be getting a new costume in Earth 2, expect to hear a lot of jokes about how no straight man would ever dare wear that outfit in public.  Conversely, expect a lot of lines about Alan is breaking stereotypes, as most gay men would have better fashion sense than to dress like that.

3. Where Does This Leave The Molly Mayne Harlequin?

For those of you who aren't big Golden Age fans, let me explain.  The Harlequin was a villainess who fought Green Lantern several times.  Her crimes were strictly small-time and she never intentionally hurt anyone, seemingly being in it for the fun of it.  In truth, she had fallen in love with the flashy Green Lantern but could think of no other way to get his attention and asking for a date than by dressing up in a clown costume and committing crimes.  Eventually she reformed and she and Alan Scott hooked up and got married years later. 

A part of me is deeply suspicious that the move to make Alan Scott gay may be a way for The Powers That Be to eliminate any and all reference to any Harlequin-themed villainesses other than the current Suicide Girl model.  This would be a shame, as I always had a soft spot for Molly Mayne and thought that she and Alan made for an interesting couple.  Granted, her motivations for turning to costumed villainy haven't aged well and may cause some teeth-gritting in some modern readers (i.e. I have a crush and want the hero to notice me!) but there's something whimsical about the concept I find refreshing.

Of course it occurs to me that they could be planning to bring Harlequin back for cheap laughs, having her chasing after a hero whose disinterest in her is less due to her criminal ways and more due to his playing for the other team.  I'd like to think James Robinson is better than that.  And then I remember all the comedy in Starman that made light of various characters' sexuality and I worry some more.

4. Gay Alan Scott = No Children = No Infinity Inc. ?

Granting that it is possible for a gay man to have fathered children in some form or fashion, having Alan Scott be uninterested in women does increase the chances that the DCnU will not ever have a Jade or Obsidian in it.  And if they never existed, then as the most prominent members of the second-generation hero team Infinity Inc. it's likely that the rest of the team never existed either.

Why is that a big deal?  Because most of the Infinity Inc. characters could potentially cause problems if you tried to fit them into the new Earth 2.    Wonder Woman's daughter Fury alone could cause a Crisis...

5. Like Father, Like Son.  Think About It, Won't You?

Going along with the above point, if there's no Obsidian in the DCnU then there's one less gay hero in the DCnU as well.  Having Alan Scott's orientation changed keeps the count even.  Of course the idea that you can replace one character so easily brings up some rather disturbing implications... 

Justice League #7-9 : A Review

I think Justice League would be a better book if it had more of The Justice League in it.

That may seem an odd comment but I stand by it.  Since the opening six-issue story arc, this book - despite having numerous action scenes involving The Justice League - hasn't really felt like it was about The Justice League.  The Justice League is present but there is little depth to that presence.  And up until Issue #9, the main focus of the stories has been on someone other than The Justice League members themselves.

Case In Point; I just did a page count on Justice League #7 and determined that after cutting out the Shazam back-up story, just over half of this comic's pages are devoted to The Justice League fighting a monster created by mad science.  But it doesn't feel like it.  The action sequence is just fluff building up to the real focus of this issue.  And that focus is fixed firmly upon one Colonel Steve Trevor.

In the five years since the Justice League formed, Col. Trevor has become a sort of spokesperson/government liaison for the team.  In theory, this means his job is to field questions from reporters after every incident the Justice League gets involved in and deliver requests from the League to the US Congress and vice-versa.  In practice, Col. Trevor's job is to discourage reporters from openly questioning the efficiency of the U.S.A and convincing various Congressional committees that issuing demands to people who could potentially rip the planet in half is a bad idea.

This could be boring except for the fact that Geoff Johns has developed Steve Trevor far beyond his usual role as Wonder Woman's dude in distress.  Steve Trevor is, in a word, badass.  He's a man of action who chafes at being stuck in a glorified desk job and yet he sticks with it for reasons beyond merely serving his country or protecting the world.  I hesitate to make the obvious comparisons to Nick Fury because Col. Trevor, as written here, is much deeper than that.  

Gene Ha was the guest artist on this issue and he proves to be a fitting choice.  Perhaps most famous for his work with Alan Moore on Top 10, Ha's detail-oriented style is, for my money at any rate, a better fit for this material than Jim Lee's more bombastic pencils would have been.  Ha draws a mean action scene but his ability to put layers into scenes of people merely talking helps to elevate this book. 

Issue #8 may as well have been titled "Everyone Hates Green Arrow".  Again, the Justice League is present for most of the issue but the focus this time is upon a superhero who isn't a League member and his efforts to impress the team into asking him to join.  Again, we don't really get any insight into any of the League members beyond the basic information we've already gleaned in the opening story-arc.  Superman is a  nice guy.  Wonder Woman likes fighting.  Aquaman is a tight-ass.  Batman is a tighter tight-ass.  Hal Jordan is an asshole.  The Flash is a wimp.  And Cyborg... uh, is there.  

This whole issue feels really uneven, being chiefly comprised of a series of interludes where The League confronts some crisis taking up the main story of another DC Comics title (Night of Owls over in Batman, The Cultists from Justice League Dark, etc) and Green Arrow shows up to help out... much to the annoyance of most of the Justice League. Hints are dropped as to Aquaman having some prior dealings with Green Arrow (hints that were also dropped in the Green Arrow book) but no details are given.  Later, Oliver Queen refers to his own dark past and becoming Green Arrow to make amends for his own personal sins but we are not given an inkling just what his past crimes might have been.

What's really vexing to me is that despite so little being said about Green Arrow's backstory, Geoff Johns still gives the character of Oliver Queen more depth and development in this one issue than Ollie's gotten in his entire DCnU series so far.  And I'm uncertain if that's a complement to Johns or a commendation of the current Green Arrow book and all three writers who have worked on it in the past nine months.

The artwork by Carlos D'anda is as uneven as the story.  Consider the shifting size of Green Arrow's mask in the above page scan and how it seems, at times, to go over his hairline.  There's also a continuity error in the earlier pages, where the arrow Green Arrow shot into an Amazo robot is not visible in any far shots of the robot until Green Arrow points it out.

Thankfully, Jim Lee returns to the art duties with Issue #9 and with him returns the Geoff Johns we all know and love from JSA.  This time, the story is focused on The League.  This time, we get a lot of the little character moments Johns is famous for, as most of the team gets brief flashbacks amid the action of the issue that lend further insight into their characters and their backgrounds. 

These scenes give this issue a depth that the previous two issues lacked.  You wouldn't think that a quick panel or two of Clark Kent remembering being the last one picked for teams back in high-school could add so much to the story but it does.  And even though most of these scenes merely highlight what we already know about the characters (i.e. Hal Jordan has authority issues, Barry Allen is a goody-two-shoes, Cyborg has issues with his dad), we do get some new information, such as precisely why Wonder Woman and Steve Tervor's relationship fell apart.

Of course the one thing that everyone picked up on in this issue was one of Bruce's memories involved a letter - a letter that looks suspiciously like it might have been the one that the Batman of the Flashpoint universe, Thomas Wayne, asked Barry Allen to give his son.  What does this mean?  Who can say?  Personally, I'm less interested in the state of the universe and more interested in the state of the characters and this issue does give us more information on that.

In all this talk of character, it occurs to me that I've said little about how this issue sets up a storyline involving a new villain who is out to destroy the Justice League.  But then again, what little we see of the man called Graves is mostly set-up.  No doubt we will be seeing more of him in the coming months.  Yes, I am still reading this book.  For all it's faults and unevenness, it is still a good read.  And if you haven't given it a shot yet, I highly recommend jumping on with Issue #9.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shazam #1-3 (A Justice League #7-9 Back-Up Review)

Since Issue #7, the Justice League title has been pulling double-duty, offering us not only the adventures of the JLA but also introducing us to the DCnU version of Shazam (a.k.a. The Hero Formerly Known As Captain Marvel).  At least, that was the theory.  In practice, the entire back-up storyline thus far has read like a parody of a typical young adult fantasy series, but with all of the humor and magic stripped from it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the original concept, let me sum up.  Billy Batson was a homeless orphan, who was still noble of heart despite his rough circumstances.  It was for this reason that Billy was chosen by the wizard Shazam to be empowered as a champion of good.  Shazam appeared to Billy, and told the young man that he could summon forth a magical bolt of lightning by saying the wizard's name.  This magical bolt would temporarily give Billy the attributes of several legendary figures - the wisdom of Solomon; the strength of Hercules; the stamina of Atlas; the power of Zeus; the courage of Achilles; and the speed of Mercury - allowing him to fight evil as Captain Marvel.

At one time, the adventures of Captain Marvel outsold Superman.  Even today, after years of erratic publishing, The Big Red Cheese still has a small but loyal following - a devout fandom who have rejected most of the attempts to modernize the core concept of the character or make it "relevant".  And personally, I can't blame them.  True, some of the aspects of Billy's background are a little dated, like his after-school job as a radio news reporter.  But that doesn't change the fact that the core of Billy's character concept - a virtuous young man who proves worthy of magical powers that turn him into a protector of justice - is a solid one.

This brings us to the main problem with this new Shazam series.  The new Billy Batson is neither pure, nor noble nor good-hearted.  Indeed, he is rightly described as the most unpleasant boy in the world.  He seems nice enough as we are first introduced to him, as a kindly old social-worker supervises a meeting between Billy and a potential adoptive family.  Billy describes himself as being neat, tidy, an avid reader and a pod-caster.  But after one page, once the potential parents are out of ear-shot, the mask is dropped and both Billy and the social worker are exposed as being... well.. the sort of people who should never be in a Shazam story except as the villains.

It seems to be a disturbing trend at DC Comics of late that every single teen superhero has to have some kind of dark, disturbed background and a snarky personality..  Now, I love snarky anti-heroes as much as the next fellow... but what's wrong with having a teen protagonist who is basically a good kid?  Too boring?  Not extreme enough?  Billy Batson doesn't have enough attitude for the kids today who are reading Harry Potter or Percy Jackson?

Bull!  Billy Batson can be written as an idealistic young man in the modern day without coming off as being cheesy or artificial.  Geoff Johns did a damn fine job doing just that during his legendary run on JSA.  Which makes it all the more frustrating that Johns is writing Billy Batson as a spoiled brat.  And what is worse, three issues into this storyline, and Billy STILL hasn't been exposed to anything magical or shown any heroic traits apart from hating bullies and being willing to stand up to them... even as he acts like a jerk to everyone who is trying to help him.  There's no magic or wonder or marvels here.  Just a melodramatic slice-of-life comic that reads like Lemony Snicket sans whimsy.

The artwork by Gary Frank is decent enough but it can' t disguise the heartless shell lying at the core of this title.  I can't help but cynically reflect that the reason this title is being published as a back-up in Justice League is because there's no other way it could sell.  The Captain Marvel fans of old won't buy a book where Billy Batson is a juvenile delinquent and many modern readers won't give a "classic" character like Shazam a fair shake.  And it's a crying shame, because whether he's Captain Marvel or Shazam, Billy Batson deserves a lot better than this dull book.

Doctor Who Short: Good As Gold

WARNING: The following video may cause some Doctor Who fans' heads to explode as they consider the paradox this short film suggests, as this requires a healthy dose of Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey to justify being in the current continuity. Perhaps this is how those cracks in reality started?


11th Doctor Matt Smith To Carry Olympic Torch

SOURCE: Doctor Who Offiical Twitter

"Who Will Run?"  Who indeed.

We can confirm that Matt Smith will start the in Cardiff tomorrow (Saturday)!

Expect thousands of enraged Tenth Doctor fans to begin screaming bloody murder... about three hours ago, relative time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two-Part 'Dark Knight Returns' Anime In The Works

Apparently WB's next DC Comics anime will be a two-part adaptation of the classic Frank Miller story Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  The following cast has been announced.
Batman/Bruce Wayne:  Peter Weller (Robocop, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension)
Robin/Carrie Kelly: Ariel Winter (Modern Family)
Two-Face/Harvey Dent: Wade Williams (Prison Break)
Dr. Wolper: Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap, Clue)
Veteran actor David Selby (the television seriesDark Shadows and Falcon Crest) was also announced as part of the cast, but has yet to be officially tied to a role.  

The animation still release thus far do seem to have captured the essence of Frank Miller's style in the 1980s, while still giving everything a more stream-lined appearance typical to Anime in general and the recent Warner Brothers produced DC Comics anime in particular.

No word yet on who will be playing Commissioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth of The Joker but expect the fanboys to have started pestering Mark Hamill about two hours ago. :)

A Requiem for Mister Terrific

It's far too late for me to save what I thought was the most innovative new title to come out of the New 52.  Now all I can do is mourn, admonish you all for not giving this wonderful high-concept book a chance and use what space I have to ensure that this title is remembered, even if only as a lost treasure that helped to set up two new titles that have gone on to greater critical acclaim. 

Mister Terrific could have been a slam-dunk for DC Comics.  Ignoring the following that the original character had from his days in JSA and Checkmate, the book would have been a perfect sell to hard science-fiction fans as well as the fandoms of other weird-science shows with Fringe, Eureka and Doctor Who.  Indeed, the first issue of Mister Terrific made a Doctor Who reference and the very last page of the final issue seems to be something of a nod to the time/space vortex imagery of the Tom Baker days.  But what really made this book the prefect complement to those series was the hero - a super-genius who used intellect and romance to combat evil rather than brute force and cynicism. 


I think it's worth noting what an excellent job Eric Wallace did of bringing this series to a close, even as he had to step-up the introduction of the character I think was clearly meant to be Mister Terrific's arch-enemy - a treacherous underling executive whose attempts to steal Michael Holt's technology result in him becoming a technopath.  A shame he couldn't last past his premier appearance for while the idea of a machine-manipulating madman has been done before, Wallace did put a unique spin on the concept.  And Gianluca Gugliotta's art continued to be excellent to the very end.


If you're a fan of the new World's Finest book (and why wouldn't you be?), you might want to pick up issues #7 and #8 of Mister Terrific while they are still in the store or pick up the upcoming trade paperback.  Not only do you get to see how Power Girl was starting out on Earth 2 but you get a bit of a preview of what led to the events of the first issue.  Fans of Earth 2 will also want to check these books out, as it appears that Michael Holt will be teleporting himself into that book within a few issues. 

Here's to you, Michael Holt.  See you soon!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Batman #9 - A Review

When it comes to the most recent issue of Batman, I could be repetitive.   I could reword what I said in previous reviews about Scott Snyder's masterful conceit of the Court of Owls - a secret society with assassins called Talons, who have been secretly ruling Gotham City for years.  I could wax philosophical yet again regarding the Gothic majesty of Greg Capullo's pencils backed by Jonathan Glapion's inks.  I could do all that, but I think - on the off chance you still aren't reading this book despite my earlier recommendations - it would be more effective for me to show you this one page.  

The dinosaur we usually see depicted as a trophy in the Bat Cave?  It's a functional part of the defenses.

Funny, yes.  But more than that, it speaks to the idea that when you get right down to it, Bruce Wayne is still an angry eight-year-old boy at heart.  Because what would an angry eight-year-old boy use to rain terror and vengeance upon his enemies?  Why, a dinosaur robot, of course!

The main part of the issue showcases this epic battle as both Batman and Alfred defend the Bat Cave from a hostile army of invading Talons.  It is as grand an action sequence as you could hope to find in any big-screen blockbuster.  The back-up story is an interesting little number, which promises big changes for the status quo of the Batman universe as we go back in time to Alfred's father, Jarvis Pennyworth, and discover a dark secret that binds both the Waynes and Pennyworths together.

I've said it before and I will say it again.  This is the best Batman comic I've seen in years and it should be required reading for all fans of the genre.

Dallas ComicCon 2012 - A Report

The lines.  The endless lines.

Yes, I know that lines are something to be expected at a convention.  But the lines at Dallas ComicCon 2012 on Saturday were beyond belief.  I cannot say for certain that the convention may have been oversold relative to the maximum occupancy of the convention center but given some of the stories I heard from fellow convention goers and the evidence I witnessed with my own eyes, it would not surprise me if that were the case.

Don't get me wrong - this was without a doubt the biggest convention, in terms of talent presented, of any convention held in the Dallas area in recent memory.  For the comic fans, you had living legends like Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Len Wein and George Perez along with dozen of other popular artists and authors.  Or say you're interested in media guests?  Start with Professor X himself, Patrick Stewart.  Bring in Summer Glau of Firefly fame.  Adam West AND Burt Ward?  .They were both there.  And I'm just scratching the surface here.

Unfortunately, while the management of DCC did bring a fine collection of attractions to the DFW area, the management of the crowds left much to be desired.  Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if, like last year's Sci-Fi Expo at the same convention center, the convention layout had created one large area in the main room for all of the celebrity guests rather than sequestering the media guests on the third floor as they did this year.  The escalators broke down early on and the lines up to the third floor quickly overlapped with the lines for the concession stands on the second floor.

This led to another problem I ran into and heard about from my associates - the concessions issue.  Ignoring the long lines that wound up blocking the aisles making it difficult for many vendor tables to operate, the concession stands reportedly ran out of bottled water early on .  To make matters worse, unlike every other convention I've ever attended, pitchers of water were not made freely available in the hallways or far corners of the main convention room.

But before I embark any further on this discussion about the problems of the day, let me speak a bit about the good things that happened and the many things that the convention did right.

I arrived about half an hour before the doors were to open, clad in my newest cosplay outfit - a Green Arrow costume loosely modeled on the design used during Brightest Day.  I was not the only Green Arrow in attendance but I was the only one with a boxing glove arrow.  :)


After posing for a picture at the request of one of the volunteers (and letting them snap one of me with my camera), I continued on to wait in the line immediately outside of the elevator for the parking garage on the backside of the convention center.  After a brief wait, we were let inside and I was able to buy my pass.

The first order of business was to hit the vendor's room and seek out a certain book.  In all the preparation for the convention, something hit me - apart from a collection of Green Arrow/Green Lantern stories, I didn't have a single Neal Adams comic anywhere in my collection.  Thankfully, I was able to find a copy of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #86 at a reasonable price at a booth run by one private collector.  

The autograph area for the comics professionals took up the entire back wall of the main convention floor.  Deciding not to brave the crowd that was already lining up for Neal Adams, I decided to hit some of the other pros on my list.  The first was Brian Stelfreeze, long-time cover painter for the Batman: Shadow of the Bat series, followed shortly thereafter by artist Norm Breyfogle.  I had them both autograph a copy of Batman: Shadow of the Bat #13 - which was one of the first Batman comics I ever read back when I first started getting into comics.

I got my copy of The Shade #1 autographed by Cully Hammer, who illustrated the first few issues of the current mini-series as well as redesigning various DCnU characters along with Jim Lee.  We had a nice discussion about the Arrow trailer as well as the progression of Green Arrow's costume through the years.
After that, I played hero for a few minutes.  When I got to the table of artist Kristan Donaldson, I found it seemingly abandoned.  Not seeing any convention security around, I opted to hang around, figuring that if nothing else I could be first in line when he got back.  It turned out he had gone off to take a smoke break.  I had him autograph one of my The Guild comics and he asked me about how I built the archer's glove for my costume.

Finally, I buckled down and got in the line for Neal Adams.  Getting to the front took me the better part of an hour, which wasn't that bad relatively speaking.  What was bad, however was that several people never learned the basic con etiquette which suggests you ask someone before cutting through their line to get from one side to the other.  This became particularly problematic as the lines for the professionals stretched back far enough that it denied the creation of two lanes (one going in each direction) near the dealer's tables in the middle of the room.  Still, the aggrevation was worth it when I finally got to meet Neal Adams, thank him for everything he'd done to define Green Arrow over the years and get my new book signed.
This left me with one autograph I wanted to get that day - Kevin Conroy.  The Voice himself.  The voice of Batman in darn near everything that required a voice actor for Batman in the last 20 years.  Sadly, it was not to be.  When I got to the end of the line around 1:30, I was informed by a Con staffer holding a sign that he did nor mark the end of the line but rather the point at which autographs could not be guaranteed.  At that point, the line was stretching from Conroy's booth at the far left side of the main room, running along the left wall and then running along the close wall before ending just shy of the concession stands build into the close wall.  This line, coupled with the lines for the concession stands , made navigating the aisle between the concession stands and the first rank of dealer tables all but impossible.

Deciding I'd had enough of lines for the day and having too much else to do, I made a quick trip to the car to drop off my swag and decided to go check in with some friends and snag a few cosplayer pictures myself. 

A sweet-looknig Supergirl I ran into on the way back from my car.  She was with a young mother, who was showing her toddler the different heroes while waiting in line.  To my shock, the toddler was the only person all day to call me Hawkeye - a slight I was willing to forgive in his case.  He's still learning, after all, and mom was quick to correct him. 

A gender-flipped Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.  Why couldn't we have gotten this in the DCnU?

The first Black Canary I saw at the convention.  Naturally, I had to get a pic with her.

I met up with my friends Halo and Terry from ShoNuff Studio and picked up a copy of their limited-edition convention sketchbook.  The following scans are presented here with their generous permission.

I can't pretend to understand Halo's obsession with sentient cupcakes modeled on popular characters.  But damn me if I don't want a Hellboy Cupcake at my next birthday. :)

Terry Parr's Steampunk Hitler. That is all.

I stopped by the table of  Something Positive/Super Stupor creator R. K. Milholland.  I had planned to purchase a copy of his first printed Super Stupor book (mine disappeared after I loaned it to a friend, but I can't remember precisely which one) but he generously insisted on me taking it gratis.  Besieged by another line of people waiting for concessions (this one running directly up one of the columns between the vendor tables), it took some doing for me to finally escape.  Until then, I had a lovely chat with R.K and his girlfriend about libraries and geek-themed brothels.

I posed for a few more pictures over the next hour.  The following people either took my picture or were generous enough to allow me to use their table to hold my props as I rewrapped my bow.

Damien T. McDaniel - Freelance Artist

Rotten Pumpkin Studios

Deciding I didn't feel up to hanging around for the costume contest, I made a break for it and began heading back to the parking lot.  It was then that I unexpectedly ran into my friend Phil, a local journalist who had was late in getting out to the convention that day.  Phil was cosplaying Agent Coulson from the recent Marvel movies. 

By that point, the line for Kevin Conroy had been moved out of doors in the close left corner of the main room and into the main convention hall, stretching back to the exit for the parking lot.  While I didn't feel up to waiting around with Phil, I did pose for a few more pictures including one with my second Black Canary of the day.

One heartening note, though this is Phil's story not mine.  Apparently Kevin Conroy, after everyone had been ushered out of the convention center by the police, came out and signed autographs for all the people who hadn't been able to get to him and had demanded refunds because they wound up spending the entire day waiting in line for one autograph.

I'd always admired Kevin Conroy as an actor.  Now I admire him as a man.  Kudos to you, sir!

Overall, I had fun.  But I hope that this year will lead to improvements over how things are run in the future.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another "Arrow" Trailer - This One Even Better!

SOURCE: Second The CW's Arrow Trailer

Another Arrow trailer has been released - this one offering a more involved look at the whole cast.  It also better explains Ollie's motivations. 

On the whole, I like it.  I'm a little concerned about Ollie's costume not having a mask or any type of eye covering ala the green warpaint from the Grell run.   But it wouldn't be the first time Ollie worked maskless.  Additionally, I love all the subtle nods to Green Arrow: Year One.

Any thoughts?

Skyrim: A Journal of War - Chapter Thirty-One: Paarthurnax Course


Mjoll: Beloved!
Me: Baby! 
Mjoll: It's good to see you, dear.  Have you come to check on the store?  Get a home-cooked meal?  Or perhaps a night of the ol' "Lover's Comfort"?
Me: Okaaaaaay.  Little disturbed at how the ass-kicking amazon I married has gone all Stepford Wife.
Mjoll: Does that mean I can change back into my real armor and out of this oddly skimpy armor you gave me, which seems more suitable for a dockside rent-girl than a proud Nord shield maiden?
Me: No.  Actually, I needed you to join me on a quest and it's important that you look as classically Nordish as possible. 
Mjoll: Oh?
Me: I need someone to watch my back as I go to confront the Greybeards over some secret lore they may have been hiding from me for reasons unknown..
Mjoll: Ah.  And you think they will be more respectful in the presence of two warriors who obviously respect the proud traditions of our people. 
Me: Absolutely.  *mutters* Plus, they'll be too busy starring at you to think straight.


Arngeir: Hail to thee, Matthias!  Thane of Thanes and -
Me: Yeah, yeah.  Praise me and all that!  Listen, I need to learn the Shout that can knock dragons out of the air.  The one that was used to defeat Alduin?
Arngeir: What?  Where did you learn of that?  Who have you been talking to?
Me: The Blades.
Arngeir: Oh, Oblivion!  Those meddlers specialize in fiddling about with things they barely understand.
Me: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Arngeir: Have you learned nothing from... wait, what?!
I agree with you.  They're a bunch of idiots who claim to be great dragon slayers, but aren't doing a damn thing to actually fight the dragons.  They're supposed to be great spies but they sent me on an undercover mission with an invitation made out under my own name!  And they're supposedly age-old servants to the Dragonborn, yet they keep bossing me around and telling me what to do!
Arngeir: That... is far harsher than even I would be.  Still, I am pleased you have seen them for what they are.  For all their talk of serving the Dragonborn, they do not.  They serve only their own interests.
Me: Yeah.  Which is why I need the Shout so I can deal with the dragons and get free of their influence.
Mjoll: Also, to save the world, of course.
Me: Well, I thought that would go without saying...
Arngeir: Alas, I cannot teach you the words of the Shout called "Dragonrend".  For I do not know it.
Me: Then why were you making such a big deal about me asking?
Arngeir: Because while I cannot teach you, the head of our order, Paarthurnax, might.
Me: Emphasis on the "might". So where do I find this Paarthurnax?
Arngeir: You do not.  You are not ready to meet him.  You are not worthy to face him.  And yet, The Blades have given you questions that only he may answer...
Me: So just send a message to him and deliver his answer to me here!
Arngeir: It is not so simple.  He lives in seclusion upon the highest point of this mountain, protected by the very elements.  But we shall teach you a shout that will enable you to reach him.
Me: Really?   What happened to me not being ready or worthy?
Arngeir:  I figure you shall prove me wrong or you shall die horribly.  Either way, it will get you out of my hair for a time. 


Me: I'm liking this new shout to clear away the fog and storms.  How about you, Mjoll?
Mjoll: ... so... very... cold.
Me: Yeah, it is cool.  And we're nearly at the top!  But I don't see any monks up here or a shack they could live in.  Just that big mountain peak that is moving and... ACK!  Dragon!



Paarthurnax:  Drem Yol Lok.  Greetings, wunduniik.  I am Paarthurnax.
Me: ... you're a dragon?!
Mjoll: He's a dragon?!
Paarthurnax: Indeed.
Me: ... how did you become a dragon?
Paarthurnax: I have always been a Dov, ever since I was young, which was quite a long time ago.
Me: But... how?
Well, my mother and father with both of the Dov.  And then one night, after sharing a meal of a small village...
Me: No, no, no... I mean.... how is it that you are the head of the Greybeards?
Paarthurnax: Ah.  An interesting tale, that.  But first there are formalities that must be addressed. For I sense that you are DovahkiinAnd it is custom among my kind that when meeting a stranger, you test your power against theirs.
Me: Who wrote your customs?  Stan Lee?
Paarthurnax: Nay.  Tis a tradition longer than the Age of Man.  And by tradition, the Elder speaks first.
Me: Oh, Oblivion!
Paarthurnax: Hear my Thu'um!  Feel it in your bones!  Match it if you are truly Dovahkiin!  VOL TOOR SHUL!
Mjoll: Ack!  Fire!  Skyrim belongs to the Nords!
Me: What?!  Mjoll, no!  Don't!  It didn't touch me!



Me: Paarthurnax, let me apologize again for my wife.  I think she's gone a bit crazed with blood lust having been at home for so long.
Paarthurnax: No apologies are needed, Dovahkinn.  Long has it been since I indulged in base combat with a lesser being!
Lesser being?  I will show you what a lesser being can do!
Me: Not that again!
Paarthurnax: I see why you took this one as a mate, Dovahkiin.  She has the fire of a Dov in her... but I think it best we continue this talk with me out of arrow range from her.
Me: She's very protective of me.  What can I say?



Paarthurnax: Now... the introductions are out of the way.  I have taught you the secrets of breathing fire and I am safely in the sky.  Why did you come here to disturb my meditations?
Me: I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout. 
Paarthurnax: Ah.  You did not come to speak with an old Dov.  Merely to seek a weapon against Alduin?
Me: Well, I did enjoy the talk  And the new Words are nice.  But Alduin is making a mess of things.  And The Greybeards thought you might help me. 
Paarthurnax: Help you I might.  But I do not know the words of Dragonrend.  I cannot. 
Me: What?!  Why not?
Paarthurnax: Dragonrend was fashioned by man to use against the Dov.  Our minds... they cannot even conceive of the concepts the Dragonrend shout imparts to those who hear it! 
Me: So how do I learn it?
Paarthurnax: Hmmmm.... let me answer a question with a question.  Why do you seek the Dragonfrend to begin with?
Me: Because Alduin is trying to destroy the world and I rather like it as it is.
Paarthurnax: An honest answer and as good a reason as any.  But some say that the death of this world shall bring about the birth of the next.  Would you stop the next world from being born?
Me: The next world can look after itself.  It is my destiny to save this one.  Apparently.
Paarthurnax: Hmmmm.  Do you know why I live here at the top of the world, Dovakhinn?
Me: Because the Jarl's wouldn't let you buy property in the city?
Nay!  Because this is where Alduin was defeated so many years ago!  And none save me remember just how he was defeated.  The heroes of Skyrim then did face him with a Shout, tis true.  But more - they used an Elder Scroll to send him into the mists of time for a later hero to face him once and for all.
Me: Let me guess... those heroes were Blades, weren't they?
Paarthurnax: How did you know?
Me: Call it a hunch.  So in order to find out what they did...?
Paarthurnax: ... you will need to find an Elder Scroll.  And not go mad reading it.
Me: ... great.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Arrow" Time Slot Announced, Teaser Trailer Released!

SOURCE: 'Arrow' Teaser Trailer: Meet The New Oliver Queen

Lot of news came out in a rush the last few days.  I resisted reporting on some of it because most of it sounded to good to be true, particularly with the speed of the news.  At this point, I think I can comfortably report...

1. 'Arrow' has been picked up by The CW as a series.
2. It will premiere this Fall on Wednesday nights at 8 pm EST.  No start date has been set yet.
3. A teaser trailer has been posted on-line.

Personally, I think it looks pretty good for a two-minute blurb.  True, it doesn't do much to sum up the show or the character.  In fact, it doesn't do much besides make Ollie look like a bad-ass.  But given his portrayal in the comics over the last few years?  I can live with it not being deeper than that to start out.  if nothing else, Stephen Arnell seems to have a good bow-handling technique.  Unlike some other archer hero actors we could mention

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Skyrim: A Journal of War - Chapter Thirty:The Best Blade Plans...

From The Saga of Matthias The Bather, Written By Sven

Matthias and Esbern fled the foul sewers of Riften, fighting their way bravely past Thalmor assassins and agents of the Thieves Guild.  After much hardship and daring, they made their way back to Riverwood and the Sleeping Giant Inn, where an anxious Delphine awaited them.

Esbern: Delphine!  It is good to see you.  It's been a long time.
Delphine: It's good to see you too, Esbern.  It's been too long, old friend.  Too long.
Me: Hey, I'm alive too!  Your chosen one of destiny and all that...
Delphine: Now then.  I assume you know about...
Esbern: The Dragonborn?  Oh yes!  Yes, indeed.
Me: Standing right here.  Feeling kind of ignored...
Esbern: This changes everything, of course.  I had something I wanted to show you...
Me: Okay!  Fine!  I'll leave you two alone to catch up!
Esbern: No, Dragonborn!  You should see this too!
Me: I very much doubt that.
Esbern: No!  Here it is!  In my pocket, I have a map to the Skyhaven Temple - the lost fortress of the Blades of Skyrim!  
Delphine: Do you have any idea what he's talking about?
I dunno. I'm just relieved the thing he's fumbling around for in his pants is a map.
Esbern: You don't understand?  Skyhaven is where the Blades of old built Alduin's Wall, to set in stone their accumulated dragon lore. A hedge against the forgetfulness of the centuries.
Me: Right.  Because it totally makes sense for you to spend years carving your wisdom into a stone wall in a hidden temple, rather than... oh, say taking writing it down?  Or better yet - taking advantage of the surplus of bards this nation produces and having them sing songs about how dragons can be killed?
Esbern: Do you have any idea what HE is talking about?
Delphine: Not really.  But I also don't see what you're getting at.
Esbern: Alduin's Wall is part prophecy and part history.  The ancient Blades wrote down all the knew of the dragon godking Alduin and his eventual return.   
Delphine: So you think Alduin's Wall might tell us how to defeat Alduin?
Esbern: Well, I believe it might, yes.  Of course there's no guarantee but...
Me: ... a slim chance is better than none.  Come on!  Let's get this over with. 


Delphine: I had thought this journey would be more difficult.  I had heard the Karthspire region was plagued by Forsworn.  But there are none to be found here...
Me: Forsworn?  You mean those guys with the antler hats and the chicks in fur armor that doesn't cover anything?
Esbern: Indeed.  You have encountered them before?
Me: I... may have had some dealings with them, yes...
Delphine: Don't get me wrong.  I am thankful for the peaceful journey.  I just expected things to be more difficult. 
Me: ... oh hell.
Esbern: Excuse me... did any of you hear a distant rumbling? 
Me: Double hell!  FUS RO DAH!


Me: Okay.  New rule.  Any Blade who every voices any concerns about something being too easy will be shot.  From a catapult.
Esbern: Ah!... the power of the dragon is yours! There can be no doubt that you are the Dragonborn of the prophecy. 
Me: Glad you're impressed.  Now, let's get a look at this lost temple.  Where is it from here?  
Esbern: At the top of that winding stone staircase.
Delphine: Is something wrong, Dragonborn? 
Me: No, no, no.  Just wondering how you managed to lose a secret temple with a bloody huge stone staircase running up to it....


Me: The Dragonborn has another new rule: Someone else gets to lead the way through the room with the pressure-sensitive plates requiring you to spell out obscure words in ancient runes from now on. 
Esbern: Shoar's bones!  Here it is!  Alduin's Wall... so well preserved!  I have never seen a finer example of early second era Akaviri sculptural relief!
Delphine: Yes, I'm sure it's lovely.  But does it say how to defeat Alduin?
Esbern: Patience, my dear.  The Akaviri were a subtle people and their artwork is full of symbolism.  Nothing is straight-forwardThis will take me some time to read fully.
Me: Can't you just skip to the end?
Esbern: No.  Now... HERE, at the beginning of time...
Me: Right.  There's my cue to find a privy.  Nothing good ever comes of a story starts with "At the beginning of time..."


Me: Ah!  What a relief! 
Delphine: Did you find the privies? 
Me: Uh... sure. 
Esbern: ... and here we see the masters of The Shout, standing against Alduin, using some sort of words against him.  You can see the symbol for "Shout" coming out of their mouths, here.
Delphine: So the Dragoborn of old used a shout to defeat Alduin?
Hmmm?  Oh, yes, yes.  Now, if we read on, here is something truly fascinating.  We have an image of a cat of hefty size, who is voicing his displeasure over the existence of Morndas...
Delphine: I don't suppose you know of a shout that could do that?  Knock a dragon out of the sky?
Me: No... but it sounds really cool!
Delphine: I'm afraid there's no alternative.  You must return to High Hrothgar and seek the aid of The Greybeards.  Unfortunately.
Me: Huh?  Why is that unfortunate?
Delphine: I'd hoped not to drag them into this.  If they had their way, you'd stay up on that mountain forever, talking to the sky or some such.
Me: Well, they are kind of jerks... but they do know more about Shouting than anyone I'll go pick up my wife for back-up and head back there.
Good.  I shall search the temple here and see if The Ancient Blades might have left anything else we might use.
Right!  I'm off then!

Monday, May 14, 2012

8 Reasons Why "Arrow" Won't Suck Like The Fans Fear It Will

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.

As possibly the most vocal Green Arrow fan on the Internet, I've certainly done my share of kvetching about this project.  But even I was unprepared for some of the complaints I've heard in response to this news now that the pilot is now officially a show in production.  And while there's a lot about this show that still has me nervous (i.e. Andrew Kreisberg is running it), there are some complaints I've seen that strike me as petty even by the standards of fanboys grousing about Hollywood.  Here now are some of the comments I've seen this morning and my responses.

1. They're calling it 'Arrow' instead of 'Green Arrow' and the character is called 'The Arrow'.

I can actually see a very smart reason for doing this - brand name recognition.  I'm sure most of you remember that we had both Green Lantern and a Green Hornet movies come out in 2011 and that despite being about very different characters a lot of the mainstream press and the teaming masses got the two confused.  And I'm sure that many of you Arrowheads out there have tried to talk about Green Arrow before, only for someone to say "Oh yeah!  I love that guy with the ring!"

2. By changing the name of the show/character, they're minimizing the connection to the comic book.
Given the state of Green Arrow over the past few years, that's probably for the best.  At present, the Oliver Queen in the comics (i.e. Steve Jobs in tights) is a completely different character from the Oliver Queen in the comics from a year ago (i.e. exile living in a mystic forest), the Oliver Queen from two years ago (i.e. urban avenger/newlywed) and even the Oliver Queen from five years ago (i.e. mayor by day/hero by night).  I'd love to see an interest in Green Arrow be kindled by this TV show but there's just no easy jumping-on point in any of the recent comics given how frequently the creative teams changed and the focus of the book shifted.  The best hope then, is for the show to succeed on its' own merits and for DC Comics to publish a comic based on the universe of the TV Show... like they have with all the animated adaptations and Smallville.

3. Oliver Queen has always been portrayed an orphan.

You know who else has always been portrayed as an orphan?  Batman.

Who is Green Arrow always accused of being a second-string version of?  Batman.

The difference between them is that while the death of Bruce Wayne's parents is essential dogma to the legend of The Batman, Ollie's status as an orphan isn't.  Ollie's moment of transformation came much later on in life.  So long as you portray Oliver Queen as a man who becomes lost at sea, discovers his talent for archery while struggling to survive and tries to mend his wicked ways on return to civilization, it doesn't matter whether Ollie's parents died of old age before he took over their company or were mauled by a lion while on safari.

4. Oliver Queen has always been portrayed as an only child.

See the above complaints regarding Ollie always having been an orphan.  Anything that helps to differentiate Ollie in the public eye as being different than Batman can only help.

5. Starling City?  Why not Star City?  Why not Seattle?  Why not any other real world city?

The problem with using a real-world location is that most large cities are very distinctive.  Even without major landmarks (i.e. The Space Needle), your average street in Seattle is different from Austin  which is different from Portland which is different from Los Angeles.  While they could "cheat" and just inter-cut location shots of Seattle between scenes, it is a bit more difficult to do this sort of thing in a superheroic action show which will - hopefully - include numerous rooftop battles.  It just looks bad to say you are in Seattle when you can clearly see Los Angeles landmarks in the background.

As for why they can't use Star City, perhaps the writers are trying to further separate this version of Green Arrow from the other more recent versions portrayed in the comics.  At the very least, it is one more thing that can be pointed to so enraged fanboys like me can be told "Well, see... totally different universe.  So the Green Arrow you like isn't being hurt."

6. Oliver Queen's mom was never a supervillain!

Up until J.T. Krul's brief Green Arrow run during Brightest Day, Ollie's mom was rarely mentioned let alone developed into a full character.  The one story I can remember her being in before was the Scott McCullar origin from the Green Arrow Secret Files which showed that Ollie's parents were killed while on safari. 

While the idea of a powerful, corrupt matriarch is hardly original, there isn't really a previous character to despoil in this case.  And I rather like the idea of Ollie having a specific evil to combat and redeem himself for rather than generic rallying against "fat cats". 

7. Laurel Lance?  Why can't she be Dinah Lance?

Well, I doubt it's because they plan to place her in the damsel-in-distress every week and they thought Laurel Lance would remind everyone of Lois Lane.  Again, this may be a subtle separation from the comics as they are now.  Again, rather a smart move given that Dinah Lance in Birds of Prey be on a completely different Earth than the current version of Green Arrow. 

8.  John Diggle?  His loyal sidekick is a big guy named John? 

Granting that's a little cheeseball, it's par for the course for the Green Arrow books.  The original corrupt executive who stole Oliver Queen's fortune?  John DeLeon.  Or John The Lion.  As in Prince John.

Besides, it's nowhere near as cheesy as Ollie's bodyguard form his mayor days being a big guy named John Smalls.  And I think the "Diggle" last name may be a nod to Green Arrow: Year One author Andy Diggle, which I definitely approve of.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Huntress & Power Girl: World's Finest #1


Five years ago and another world away, they were the next generation of heroes - The Maiden of Might and The Girl Wonder.  But an alien invasion claimed the lives of their mentors and left them stranded on an Earth that was similar to their own but where the Age Of Heroes was just beginning.  Assuming new identities, the two friends began to make their way in this strange new world.  One became a captain of industry and a power in the tech sectorr.  The other became an urban legend, who preyed upon the predators in the darkest corners of their new home.
Today, the woman known as Karen Starr is despondent.  The technology she had hoped to used to find a way home has been destroyed, along with her new lab.  The one thing that survived intact?  A new costume she had made for herself, deciding her best friend was right about getting back in the saddle and being a hero again.  Karen Starr is now Power Girl.  The woman born Helena Wayne, the former Robin of another world, is now The Huntress.  Together, they are the World's Finest Heroes!

Following up on the heels of Earth 2 and spinning-off somewhat from the short-lived Mister Terrific series and Huntress mini-series, World's Finest - much like it's main characters - manages to stand on its' own, despite where it came from.  A neat flashback explains away the duo's origins and connection to the Earth 2 book while the opening interlude explains Karen Starr's status as a billionaire playgirl and her connection to the inventor Michael Holt, whose technology just went "boom" at one of her labs.  It would be easy for this series to get caught up in minutia but Paul Levitz  prevents the story from getting bogged down in its' concept or set-up. 

What really sells the book is the relationship between Helena and Karen.  The friendship between the two is established quickly and while it is made clear that the two disagree on a number of things, they still have a great deal of mutual respect for one another.  Both Karen and Helena are presented as distinct personalities, with Karen being the more adventurous of the two and Helena being more reserved.  Levitz, who also wrote the recent mini-series that introduced this new take on The Huntress, deserves a lot of credit for what he has done here. 

The artwork is, in a word, amazing.  Not content to put one top-notch artist on this title, DC Comics gave us two - George Perez and Kevin "I Can't Believe I'm Not Working With DeMatties and Giffen Again!" Maguire.  Perez handles all the scenes set in the present.  Maguire handles everything in the flashbacks.  Both artists have distinct but complementary styles so while the division in the artwork is obvious, it is not jarring nor contradictory.  Admittedly, I am a bit biased as a fan of both artists but I think this is one of the best-looking books DC Comics has put out all year.

In short, World's Finest lives up to its' name!  It is a must-read title for anyone who likes strong female protagonists and good artwork.  Highly recommended.