Soooo, some may have noticed that the new blogging structure of blogging about whatever the heck I want to hasn’t quite worked out, since there are still delays and whatnot. Part of this is because I have a life, part of it is a lack of items I wish to comment on, and another part is me trying to sift through the eight years of Penny Arcade strips so that I can start regularly reading them (a sad compulsion of mine to want to know the full backstory of something before I jump in… after all, how would I understand the concept of the Fruit-Effin’ machine if I hadn’t read the back-strips?), and another part is attempting to maintain a webcomic while also trying to look for successful ways of getting my fiction writing out there.

So needless to say I’ve been busy with lots of stuff (yeah, you’ve heard that excuse before) so I haven’t done much in terms of blogging about comics in general or my opinions about anything. So, here, let’s get my opinion on DC’s latest event.

It’s okay so far. I seem to be one of the few people out there who really enjoyed Infinite Crisis when it came out.

While there were certainly parts I didn’t enjoy (The Titans Massacre, for one), I found the story compelling, big, and altogether entertaining and a worthwhile continuation of the events from Crisis On Infinite Earths. Even the four miniseries that didn’t at first seem to have anything to do with the story were wrapped into it, because you had talented people writing, talented people on art, and overall things were coordinated well (save for a time when an issue or two was late).

Let’s go back to the artwork thing for a second, though, because this is really what my complaint about Final Crisis stems from, and how it builds into a larger point. For the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, we had George Perez on art duties, simply a comics legend because of his ability to draw a cast of hundreds and still make them all look accurate and wearing either what they wore at the time or their last known appearance in DC. Plus Perez was also doing the monthly New Teen Titans at the time and he managed to pull it all off, PLUS the covers for the series.

Following up from that in Infinite Crisis, twenty years later, we have another legend – Phil Jimenez. Like Perez, Jimenez is superbly talented, capable of crafting a complex page with a cast of hundreds and still make them look accurate. Now, admittedly, books got delayed at times either to match up with events happening at the same time in other books or art was simply rushed (the changes in the Infinite Crisis collection vs. the original individual issues, for example). And yet the final product was still awesome. Since this was still the follow-up to the masterpiece that was Crisis on Infinite Earths, George Perez returned for art duties on the covers, with Jim Lee doing an alternate print cover.

Now we get to Final Crisis. Here’s one of the two covers to issue #3.

This is just LAME. I mean, scroll back up and look at that cover to the hardcover of Infinite Crisis (which even extends around to the back cover of the book!) and then compare it to this one. We have several thematic elements depicted, including the breaking of the trinity, a bunch of villains standing together, deictions of the scene at Alexander Luthor’s tower, the red skies effect, and a distraught Earth-2 Superman.

And what are we getting in Final Crisis?

Two-thirds of the page are MISSING. Just painted red and proclaimed, “Hell with it!” The artwork itself within the book and on the covers is okay, since J.G. Jones IS a good artist, but where’s the grandeur of the previous Crisis covers? Where are hundreds of heroes gathered together to fight one unstoppable menace, risking their lives for it all?

Look at the cover to Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 from Wikipedia:

THAT IS A FREAKING COVER. It’s bold, it’s epic, and it’s just well-drawn! It’s everything you want in an issue of your big, universe-spanning crossover! But no, instead we get single characters drawn lazily in one small section of the cover witha generic font for the title. And again, the titles for both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis were individually made, since you want your title to also reflect the mood of your book in some capacity. This looks like it was thrown together at the last minute for a NOVEL, and not a very good novel, either. It doesn’t really catch the eye, especially with all the red tint over it. You just kind of glance over it as you look through the comic aisle.

The alternate covers aren’t really any better. Sure, they’ll take advantage of the full space of the cover, unlike these, but the text is even worse there, making it semi-transparent over part of the human body. THIS is how you do your massive, universe-spanning crossover to complete the trilogy of mega Crossovers? Not to mention we’re not exactly dying for another one so soon.

Infinite Crisis felt good also because it had been a few years since we’d had another big crossover. Not to mention the build up for it had been for quite a while before the actual book came out, with cosmic enemies or future characters talking about “a crisis approaching” that no one was quite certain how it was going to turn out. As such, when the book itself happened, the events in it were actually surprising! But then after the book completed, we’ve had events and mini-events, like Amazons Attack, Countdown, and a few other titles that had tie-ins even though it made no sense to have tie-ins to these things. People are experiencing event fatigue.

Furthermore, Infinite Crisis CONTINUED the story of Crisis on Infinite Earths, making it a direct sequel where just a lot of stuff had happened between the times the books came out. Final Crisis has come out a mere two years after Infinite Crisis, and from the looks of it, it’s not continuing the story! And then here’s the problem that I have with it, as exemplified by the covers:


Grant Morrison has said in interviews that originally this story was supposed to be just a separate, stand-alone thing involving the New Gods and following up on his Seven Soldiers of Victory mini-series. Somehow this ballooned up into this event that not even DC seems to actually care about making it in the same vein as their previous Crises. It’s like when Hollywood decides to put out another movie in a series simply because they want to keep cashing in on it. And don’t get me wrong, Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones are making a good story, but this doesn’t feel like a Crisis. This doesn’t feel like the end of the world, “oh-my-God-how-will-they-get-out-of-this?!” kind of thing.

I’m going to keep reading the story of course because as I said, it’s a good story. However, DC needs to rethink what helps make their events work in the future.

Batman may be able to breathe in space, but NIGHTWING RIDES NUCLEAR BOMBS.
(Plus catch up to it despite its engine being on full power)

From The Titans v.1, #12

Comics this Week

My first official post as an actual comics blogger now begins. Hopefully I’ll be able to inject some funny into this in order to justify people actually giving two craps about what I’m talking about. That said, behind the cut will feature spoilers for the following titles this week:

Justice Society of America Annual #1
Teen Titans #61
Blue Beetle #29
Cyborg #3
Trinity #9

Some may also notice a distinct lack of Marvel titles. Truth be told, Marvel just doesn’t really interest me as much as DC. It’s not helped that while DC seems to have a “Two steps forward, three steps back” approach to making what I believe in my opinion to be good decisions, Marvel seems to have a two-fold policy of “Deals with the devil are a-okay” and “superheroes in the real world should be controlled and tagged like those mutant fellas that we eradicated a couple years ago.” Still, I do buy the occasional book. American Dream was fun and I keep hanging on the edge when it comes to Thor.

Still, let’s talk about what DID come out this week below the cut.

Justice Society Annual #1
It’s good to know that Earth-2 preserved the idea of a really stupid-looking Robin costume for the adult Dick Grayson, even if it’s better than that silly one that combined the Batman and Robin outfits.

I’ve been excited about this issue since it was first announced. I’m a big fan of Power Girl and the JSA, but the issue itself… Well, it’s a little flat (Ha! Because Power Girl’s not- ah, forget it. Boob jokes about Power Girl are as funny these days as calling All-Star Batman and Robin Frank Miller’s Spirit movie take one).

While there are both sides of the DC reading fence that seem to give two craps about whether or not there’s a multiverse or not, I just want a good story. The problem is that this feels like part one of a story instead a complete story. While I think Geoff Johns is an excellent creator, I fear he’s having more and more difficulty in just telling a done-in-one. Sure, his Booster Gold series has been able to accomplish that with stunning success (at least in its first six issues it did), but lately he’s been focusing a lot on just telling longer stories (“Thy Kingdom Come” didn’t really end so much as extend into the new Gog storyline).

The issue itself just has Power Girl meeting up with the Justice Society Inifity of Earth-2, made up of a few old JSAers and most of its members being part of the old Infinity, Inc. group. It’s a nice enough start to the story, and the areas where Power Girl and Huntress are hunting an old, wheelchair-bound Joker are particularly well-done. But after 36 pages, the true Earth-2 Power Girl shows up and thus we start another subplot to go a running in the main JSA title. The internal logic is sketchy, too – the Earth-2 Power Girl wants the JSI to hunt down our universe’s PeeGee, yet they just accept her despite the fact that they KNOW there are other universe out there again. All in all it just left me a bit empty.

Teen Titans #31
Wait a second, there wasn’t any emo in this issue! FOUL!
Of late, I’ve been unimpressed with Sean McKeever’s work on Teen Titans. It’s not at all helped by the artwork, which of late has been kind of a weird combination of 1990s Image grimaces and heavy on the blood and weird faces. McKeever’s Titans have been a group of whining emo kids who get depressed a lot, usually about their chances for the future, and argued and squabbled a whole lot. According to the Titans Companion volume 2, Geoff Johns wanted to build the team up, show that they could work together when given the chance and that they truly were a great team. He did include, however, a scene where Red Star comments to them that they can’t even walk down a hallway without getting into an argument. That’s how it’s felt lately – the kids have no particular reason to hang out together. They’re just not friends.

However, this issue turns it around. Kid Devil, intent on hunting down the villain Shockwave. In an earlier issue, Kid Devil had been partly responsible for allowing Shockwave to escape, so he wished to prove himself. However, McKeever includes some great character moments in the story, including where Robin says he won’t give him a chewing down for all the ways he’s screwed up lately and Kid Devil asks for advice on how to track a villain down. Later, the animosity between Kid Devil and Blue Beetle is finally laid to rest, as well, and they just become friends.

I hate to say it, but I think it’s helped by the fact that Ravager isn’t on the team right now. Oh, believe you me, I’m a fan of Rose Wilson… but not Ravager. I joined comics when Rose Wilson was this badass woman who was Lian Harper’s nanny and who you didn’t want to screw around with, but she was generally an okay person. However, of late she has become the stereotypical “bad girl” who just insults and growls and sneers and is the kind of person you really don’t want to have around you because they’re just unpleasant.

Will McKeever be able to keep up this friendlier atmosphere? Well, should he fail, Miss Martian can always sic the imaginary puppies on him (yes, they get another reference in this issue).

Blue Beetle #29
This issue features two characters vying for the title of the deceased character Hellhound.

I’m serious.
Despite the misprint on the cover saying that John Rogers wrote this issue, this is in fact the first issue of the new Blue Beetle ongoing writer Matthew Sturges. Many Blue Beetle fans have been aprehensive about this change, since John Rogers has done such an excellent job setting up Jaime Reyes, his supporting cast, and the general mood of the book. However, I’m pleased to report that he’s off to a good start. It looks like he’s heading towards more full-on arc storytelling rather than the single-issues that have contributed a few pieces of the puzzle like Rogers did in his final arc, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be a serious problem.

Admittedly, there are some political issues that are being kind of shoehorned in on the subject of immigration, but there doesn’t seem to be any actual preaching one way or the other, which is good. Otherwise, nothing else to report other than the fact that Jaime Reyes likes to make his own sound effects, which is AWESOME. Seriously, why aren’t people buying this book?

Cyborg #3
One really has to wonder about the warranties on Cyborg’s tech considering how often it gets trashed…
For a six-part miniseries, this story is kind of moving rather slowly. In the first issue, it introduced a whole lot of exposition about Cyborg’s past as well as introducing some new elements into it that fit in perfectly with the rest of established DC history. In the second, Cyborg himself is only seen for the last few pages of the issue, since the rest of it is just a fight with someone who apparently looks like Cyborg, but he’s capable of defeating a whole bunch of Teen Titans at once. In this, we get some more exposition and a whole lot of fighting.

Overall, the story so far hasn’t been exactly the most thrilling thing in the universe, but it certainly has been more entertaining than a lot of books. Cyborg by now should be an A-lister or a heavy hitter in the DCU, worthy of the Justice League at the very least, despite his somewhat sketchy history what with his attempt to steal the moon and all (but come on, who hasn’t done that?). I really am getting kind of tired of seeing Cyborg getting smashed apart, though. Maybe he just put all his various limbs on strings or something so he can just retract them back after they’ve been pulled back?

In any case, the pace could really be picked up.

Trinity #9
Wherein it’s revealed that Alfred is Bruce’s public relations manager.
I admit I was a little skeptical about another weekly series. While 52 was a kick-ass ride that left me wanting more, Countdown had turned out to be an abysmal flop where even the characters by the end of the story were asking when things were going to a halt. It made various continuity mistakes, couldn’t be followed unless you were following half a dozen other books, didn’t advance the characters in any way, and felt slapped together from a bunch of moronic concepts. Even when something happened in Countdown, nothing happened.

However, Trinity has so far been a phenomenal success. Despite a rocky start because of a slow fight scene that seemed to take forever, Kurt Busiek has been following the 52 model, making some revelations while keeping the overall picture unclear. Even the backup story, “Making the Pieces Fit,” does not actually do what the title intends it to do, and yet I as a reader don’t feel cheated, since I know this is building to something.

To my partial dismay, the new villain called Swashbuckler (at least, I presume he’s new) debuts in this issue. Sporting a costume rather reminiscent of Bart Allen’s Impulse costume, Swashbucker has goggles, a red and black costume, and some kind of laser swords that resemble fencing swords when used. He’s quite a competent thief, as well, managing to lift Etta Candy’s identification badge without her noticing as well as Nightwing’s mask right off his face. While I can understand wanting to steal Etta’s badge (apparently without it you trip the DEO’s security system) but Nightwing’s mask baffles me. Of course, I’m sure there’s a reason for it as we’ll see, since I trust Busiek to make good on the plot he’s been telling.

So, this new format is a little dodgy, not as many jokes (it’s hard to make fun of things that don’t suck), but I’m sure an issue of Judd Winick’s Titans will be out soon, so I’ll be able to mock it and deride it soon. Stay tuned!

Here’s the thing – as I’m sure most of you have noticed, I haven’t been making posts related to doing lengthy reviews of terrible comics. Such reviews take time, and, well, I am both lazy and dedicated to my goal of getting into the comics industry itself to tell good stories. So, sadly, I must deprive you all of DieHard’s crotch or Daredevil’s fifth-dimensional physics.

However, I do like having a comics blog, so I’m going to try to keep it up. And I’ll still do the occasional review, especially since I just have so many bad comics that deserve it. I’ll also be doing a mini-review for Albert Walker over at The Agony Booth as soon as I get off my rear end and polish the review up and make it funny and whatnot. Otherwise, though, the Blog will shift over to my own thoughts and ideas concerning the comic industry, modern comics, scifi and pop culture, and where I think things are going.

Oh, and of course, I will be shamelessly self-promoting anything my puny hands can grab hold of. Will it make me more consistent? Dunno. I do know that Blue Beetle and Teen Titans come out this week, along with the JSA Annual, so two out of three books guarantee to be of some quality (I’ll leave you all to decide which ones I’m talking about… or just wait for me to blog about it).

Oh, and in my spare time, I shall attempt to DESTROY CHRIS SIMS!

…And take over the world. For more on that, here’s this fine gentleman:

Atop the Fourth Wall

Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where we sit over bad comic books and set fire to them. We all know there are bad movies, bad TV shows, and bad novels, but not enough focus is given to those awful, awful comic books. Now I love comics. I can list off several titles at any given point that I’m reading and love, but some books are just plain awful.

So here’s how it works – I find a book that is so painfully bad (or one is suggested to me) and I go over it detail by detail, analyzing and scrutinizing its flaws and trying to make you laugh along the way at some of the sheer idiotic funnybooks out there. Either go to the latest review or click “Read More!” to see the archive!

All-Star Batman and Robin #1

All-Star Goddamn Batman and Dick Grayson, Age Twelve

All-Star Batman and Robin #2

Suddenly Joel Schumacher’s Batman seems subdued and well-executed.

All-Star Batman and Robin #3

Who knew the Irish had secret ninja powers?

All-Star Batman and Robin #4

So basically by Frank Miller’s own admission here Batman is a rude, murderous child abductor who cares what twelve year-olds think about his toys and eats rats when not mourning the loss of the bloody, incestuous affair he had with his mother.

All-Star Batman and Robin #5

Frank Miller once again proving that just because you CAN write doesn’t mean you SHOULD write.

All-Star Batman and Robin #6

Man, remember when the idea of Frank Miller writing Batman seemed awesome? Those days are gone forever.

Badrock #1A

The series no one demanded! Well, except perhaps the American Dental Association…

Blood Pack #1

Thrill as they sit around and bicker with confusing dialogue!

Daredevil #306

The Man Without An Editor for his Obnoxious Purple Prose!

Isaac Asimov’s Ibots #1

And Apple Computers lawsuit in 5…4…3…

Nightcat #1

The comic that makes the movie Glitter look like-

Nah, I take it back.
Glitter is still worse than this.

Secret Defenders #9

Who says there aren’t any overweight superheroes?

Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes #1

Kind of Self-Explanatory, isn’t it?

The New Guardians #2

Sex-crazed international clichés vs. the awesomest villain ever ceated!

Thunderstrike #1

“Whosoever picks up this comic, if he be worthy, shall instantly regret it.”

Uncanny X-Men #423

I have to say, the people who paid 25 cents for this comic were profoundly ripped off.

Youngblood #1

The Next Generation of Zeroes!