Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dropping Comics vs. Busiek on Superman


One of the niceties of ending my period of comic blogging is that I can now drop comics that are bugging me without worrying about failing my own mission statement for Comic Fodder.

Focused on how much ass and whose ass is getting kicked, comic reviews usually offer very little insight into the narrative successes and failures of a single issue, let alone the how the single 22 page comic fits into the grand scheme of a larger shared universe. What this basically translates to reviewers who try to comment upon action and events in stories which they aren't following, and too often assume they're up to speed on through impressions and generalizations.

While reviewing for Comic Fodder, when an event would occur such as the ill-conceived "Amazons Attack" in the pages of Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Supergirl and the titular limited series, the scope of the event was as such that I felt that I had to read every issue of the series and the cross-overs to assure myself and my readership that I had a good understanding of DC's editorial direction. Of course, nobody was paying for all the comics which I was buying and not really enjoying.

So, now that I'm no longer comic blogging, I'm looking to unburden myself with a lot of the chaff of the current output of the DCU. And, yes, DCU puts out stuff I am not necessarily going to defend. Occasionally, those books even guest star Superman, so the excess is especially vexing. With the mega-event of Countdown to Final Crisis on the playing field, DC has tried to milk me dry with tertiary one-shots and seemingly meaningless mini-series (did I really need a Lord Havok miniseries? And if it is important... can I not just wait for the trade?).

Drop: Wonder Girl Limited Series

But the series which I am planning to drop immediately aren't the Countdown spin-offs, which I hope to just not pick up again. The first issue of the Wonder Girl mini-series continues on the trajectory of insisting that Wonder Girl must be more annoying than the recent incarnation of Supergirl. Wonder Girl has always been ill-defined, but has come to represent the acme of what boys, by the age of 17, come to call a "headcase".

By the age of 18, most guys realize that a headcase is best ignored and avoided. So, why DC would decide to turn two of their most potentially lucrative teen properties into such grating characters for an audience mostly comprised of males, 20 and older, is sort of mystifying. Only, not really... DC keeps trying to find ways to reach teen girls who read Manga, and one might think that with the cartoony art-style, they're trying for some cross-over appeal. Unfortunately, they've tied their cross-over hopes to a miserably unlikable event and counted upon readers having followed Cassandra Sandsmark since Infinite Crisis.

I've lost count of how many times Supergirl and Wonder Girl have flown away in a huff or in a teary huff after a badly written seen in which they seemed to insult other, better established characters. Why the writers believe readers are looking for comics about teenage pity-parties is a mystery perhaps only Dan Didio can solve. Or maybe Jann Jones. But, man...

Anyhow, one issue was enough. I'm done with it. And am growing closer to being done with Teen Titans lest someone figures out how to re-jigger the title into something readable.

Drop: Batman Confidential

The other title I am disappointed to be dropping is the current "Batman Confidential" storyline. I'm not sure if this was originally intended as someone's screenplay for a Batman film, or what the story is, but writer Michael Green tells his version of the origin of The Joker, while blending in other elements, such as a pre-Scarecrow Jonathan Crane being responsible for the development of Arkham. Not too surprising he can't leave things well enough without feeling he can improve them as he's a TV writer/ producer (yes, he works on "Heroes").

Particularly depressing as the art is by Denys Cowan.

I'm all for various versions from different ages of comics as to how things came to be, but... honestly, does DC think that this Green guy is writing a better story than either Moore and Bolland's The Killing Joke (or its red-headed step child sequel, The Man Who Laughs, or the follow up to that story in Gotham Knights: Pushback?), or Morrison's amazing early 90's take on the origins of Arkham Asylum in "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth"?

Perhaps Didio and the editors of Batman Confidential are a bit more on the concrete side of the fence when it comes to thinking. Surely they didn't lighten up on the why's and wherefore's as this new take on the Joker's origin is more bloody, in its way. Perhaps less traumatic a read, but... it takes the murder spree of the pre-Jokerized "Jack" as casually as the hitman himself.

And, honestly, the failed, tragic comedian of The Killing Joke was a far more chilling origin than a bored sociopath, anyway.

At any rate, these are two books I'm dropping. Along with Criminal, but that's just because I think it will read and collect better as trades.

I'll also be picking and choosing my Countdown tie-ins a bit more carefully moving forward.

Busiek on Superman: Worth Reading

On a different note: If you aren't reading Kurt Busiek's "Superman", you should be. I haven't focused on the title nearly enough either here or when I was reviewing at Comic Fodder. I re-read the most recent issue yesterday during my vacation day, and happened to read a jumbled review of the comic at the Superman Homepage.

Anyhow, one thing led to another and I e-mailed writer Busiek directly to confirm that he's got a fan out there who is really digging his work on Superman. Gracious guy that he is, Mr. Busiek wrote back.

Pretty shortly the whole "Camelot Falls" storyline will be collected in two volumes. When it is, I highly recommend you pick them up. Also, pick up "Back in Action", which was a storyline over in "Action Comics". Of course, you should also read "Up, Up and Away" which was a great Superman v. Lex storyline. For something just terrific, I recommend Superman: Secret Identity, which is just a great stand alone story.

Other Busiek books I'd suggest:
Arrowsmith: So Smart in their Fine Uniforms
Astro City
JLA/ Avengers

Of course, Kurt has been in the game for a few years, and this is just stuff published at DC. If you guys do a quick Google search, there's a lot more out there.


Michael Corley said...

Perfect! Another excuse to read Superman.

The League said...

My friend, I will always try to help you to find reasons to enjoy Superman. If you are ever lacking for reasons, just let me know.