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Thursday, September 1, 2011

My (Last*) Week In Comics 8-31-11

Well, today was the big day. The final issue of "Flashpoint," the end of the DC Comics Universe as we know it and the launch of the new DC Universe, or DCnU, to use the shorthand that someone came up with. (Was it DC themselves? Not sure.) The first of the 52 monthly titles, all starting with issue 1 -- even long-running Action Comics and Detective Comics -- was also released: Justice League #1. So let's get to what I bought today, and then we'll discuss this some more...

Flashpoint 5 (of 5): In this issue, the war between Wonder Woman's Amazons and Aquaman's Atlanteans has begun, and unless it's somehow stopped, will result in an earth-shattering cataclysm. The attempt by some of the heroes of this world, including the Flash and this alternate world's Batman, finally gathered in an attempt to stop it, isn't going so well. Then Eobard Thawne, a.k.a. Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, shows up to make things worse for Barry Allen by explaining exactly how the timeline was changed so drastically. The revelation is quite a twist. How things are resolved essentially boils down to one man's love for his mother, and another man's love for his son, and the sacrifices both must make in order to restore the correct timeline. The Amazon-Atlantis war itself is mostly an afterthought. Some characters from the various tie-in series show up dramatically for a couple of pages, but the whole thing is pretty much in the background of the Thawne/Flash/Batman drama. The final 9 pages feature a two-page sequence which bridges the old and new DCU, and hints at an upcoming threat, followed by Barry Allen waking up back at his police crime lab job. I guess it's kind of a spoiler but we all knew that when this was over Bruce Wayne would be Batman again, so it's no surprise when Flash rushes into the Batcave to find Bruce/Batman. There's a nice conversation and a touching moment.
Of course, there's a hint or two that some things are now...different, but if anyone is aware of this it's not made clear.

As for Justice League #1, I didn't buy it. I looked through it while in the store and put it back on the shelf. It didn't make sense to buy it when I have no intention of buying forthcoming issues. And since they're starting by telling how the gang got together, most of the book details the first meeting between Batman and Green Lantern. They bicker a lot. It's like one of those mismatched-buddy-cop movies but with superheroes. And then a third hero shows up at the very end spoiling for a fight, and we have a cliffhanger and an old cliche for the new universe. Which seems strange, since everything about this DCnU was supposed to be a fresh, new approach to stories, wasn't it? Having superheroes fight each other is fresh and new?

Since the news broke that DC was going to do this major reboot many details have emerged, and most of them have not been to my liking. I commented on some of it here. Basically, as it's been explained, it's now only been about five years since the public first learned of the existence of superheroes (although some, such as Batman, have operated in secret for some time). So all the older characters are now younger, less experienced and have varying degrees of differences, whether it be in personality or just a costume update. And we've been told that some of the famous (or infamous) storylines in the old DCU still happened (somehow) while others have not. They probably hope that by restarting everything, they could get rid of that pesky continuity that so many of their readers desire. But by declaring some stories still in continuity, they're only setting themselves up for complaints down the road.

Since then, more specific information on the new Super-books was released. They threw away just about everything I liked about Superboy and Supergirl, so both of those books no longer remotely interest me. As for Superman himself, they confirmed that he has never been married to Lois Lane and, in fact, she's dating someone else at the start of the new Superman #1. That book takes place in the current day and features Superman's new costume, which includes no red trunks over the blue tights (some people like that idea) and elements of Kryptonian armor, including what appear to be knee pads (see left). The idea that Superman needs armor of any kind is ridiculous...but knee pads?

Then again, we have the new Action Comics #1, which, at least to start, is set five years earlier, at the beginning of Superman's career as a costumed hero. We've been told that both his parents are deceased now (in the last major reboot in 1986, both Jonathan and Martha Kent were alive and stayed that way until Jonathan died just before the "New Krypton" storyline began in earnest). So Clark Kent is alone, isolated, and an alien. He becomes Superman and people are immediately distrusting, apparently. He's also not quite as fully powered at the start -- taking a cue from the very first Superman stories created by Siegel and Shuster, he's basically "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" instead of flying. So maybe that explains the armor.

But before that armor makes its appearance, he's dressed (see pic at right) in a short-sleeve t-shirt with his "S" crest, jeans, brown shoes or boots and a much smaller cape. But the kicker? The absolute last straw for me? That cape is the blanket he was wrapped in during his rocket's flight to earth.

That's right. Superman is wearing his f---ing BABY BLANKET as a cape.

My current comic-buying run began in 1993. I was in Tower Records one day and saw a trade paperback compilation of "The Death of Superman," which had been much-hyped when the story of the Man of Steel's demise in battle with Doomsday hit the stores. After reading it I was so intrigued that I bought the follow-up, "World Without a Superman," which compiled the issues which covered his funeral (at which Bill and Hillary Clinton spoke) and how the city of Metropolis, Superman's family, friends and even enemies dealt with the post-Superman world.

Then came Adventures of Superman #500, in which we saw Jonathan Kent's hallucination (or was it?) during a heart attack in which he went into the afterlife and convinced Clark's soul to return to the land of the living. He awoke, declaring "Clark's back," and then we were introduced to the four characters either claiming to be or seeming to be the reincarnated Man of Steel.

I was hooked.

Since then I've bought every series with Superman as the star, and quite a few in which he made guest appearances or was a featured regular (such as Justice League books), including buying up the old copies going back to the 1986 reboot, and most of the special miniseries or one-shots. I also bought just about every issue of two series each starring Superboy and Supergirl (two different Supergirls, actually). In addition, if something else got my attention I bought that as well -- a big event such as "Final Crisis," some of the big Batman storylines, etc. I bought books that featured new characters (Batwoman in Detective Comics) or new series with familiar characters (Batman, Incorporated). I bought a lot of books starring characters (such as Static) from the much more diverse Milestone Comics after their "Worlds Collide" crossover with the Superman titles. Over the years I've bought books featuring non-superhero stories (Y: The Last Man, various Sherlock Holmes books). I've even bought a Spider-Man book or two (from -- GASP! -- Marvel Comics). And, of course, Simpsons and Futurama comics.

And now, with all of the crap DC is doing, those days are sort of over. Even though I'd normally still buy the new Batwoman series, and at least one other book features a gay couple, I'm making my break now. DC, by making such a huge break with its tradition, as well as releasing all of its new books in digital format the same day the print editions hit stores, is trying to attract new and younger readers. That's fine. But they're losing me.

This isn't to say I'll never buy any comics. I'm probably going to continue buying the Simpsons and Futurama series. I may dabble in other books from time to time if my curiousity is piqued. But I don't have the income I had when I started buying these comics, and this way I can spend a lot less. So, for now, my weekly trips to the comic book store are over.

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