Four-Color Commentary

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's really wrong with James Robinson's Justice League of America

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 6:11 PM


Just read an interview on Newsarama with writer James Robinson about his current stint on the Justice League of America.

In case you haven't read his run yet, it is absolutely dreadful, and it features the WORST JLA lineup (the Dick Grayson version of Batman, Donna Troy, the "disco" Starman and Congorilla ... that's it!) since the Detroit iteration back in the day.

Anyway, I was reading the interview and Robinson said something that really struck to the heart of the problem with the title:

"One of the things about this book is it's always going to feel like it's right in the heart of the DC Universe."

That's an erroneous way to approach the book and is one the reasons why the teams roster changes so much. By trying to tie it so much to current DC continuity — which is always shifting and moving — then the book is sort of handcuffed by the whims of dozens of different creators on a bunch of divergent comics. So if Superman is in outer space for a story arc in his own book, then he's missing from the JLA for just as longer ... maybe longer. (The worst example of this was during Dwayne McDuffie's run not too long ago.)

And make no mistake, the JLA is DC's "Big Seven" — Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and The Flash — and any change to that lineup is merely an aberration that can't last long.

Now, I'm not saying the JLA should totally avoid continuity. I'm just saying that the team's adventures work best when they take place between story line's on the individual members' own books — not during.

That's my take.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

J. Michael Straczynski's (bad) ideas for his upcoming run on Wonder Woman

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 3:18 PM

I just read a post on about the new direction on Wonder Woman (starting with issue 601), as directed by the new creative team of J. Michael Straczynski and artist Don Kramer — and honestly, I'm worried. Here's a quote from JMS himself about his upcoming run:

"Our story puts Diana, alone, against almost impossible odds in a situation that begins with the destruction of Paradise Island and nearly everything she holds dear,” added JMS. “Pursued, hunted, with the events that led to this a mystery, and her future uncertain, Diana must go into the depths of her soul, and the darkest places in the world, to try and rescue the people, and the world, she cares for. Something, or someone, has flipped a switch so that the world she lives in is not the world that was...and she's the only hope of restoring that world."

Sounds like a really bad idea. I mean, how many times does Paradise Island need to be destroyed? This seems to happen all the time. Does anyone even remember what made the place cool in the first place?


That "destructive" train of thought makes me think about everything that's wrong with DC these days; every creative team is so anxious to tear everything down, kill people, etc. What Wonder Woman really needs is great stories and great art. That's it.

Speaking of art, Don Kramer is talented, but I don't really think he's the right guy for Wonder Woman. If DC is really committed to getting WW to icon status again, I think they need to get a big-name artist on the book.

I hope JMS and Kramer both prove me wrong, but I doubt it. That's my two-cents.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Comic books I hate: Round 2

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 10:38 AM

Well, here I am — back to share another list of ... shit, you get the idea.

Before I dive into the deep end of this post, let me give a big shout out to all the Deadpool fans who sent me such wonderful comments. I love hate mail! Keep it coming!

Anyway, here's my latest list of loathing:

Mighty Avengers: I actually liked this book when Bendis was writing it and Frank Cho was drawing it. But Dan Slott's terrible dialogue, lame cast and hokey situations just ruined it. Khoi Pham's art, also, just never felt "epic" enough for such a heavyweight team. Luckily it's getting canceled.

Black Panther: Writer Christopher Priest penned the best version of this character; after him, Reginald Hudlin took over and screwed it up a bit. Now it's just downright unreadable. A female Panther? Did this book really need a new Panther? Just write good stories, OK?


Green Arrow: Again, this comic book was actually good not too long ago — back when Kevin Smith wrote it. Hell, even Brad Meltzer had a good run on GA. Then came Judd Winick. Winick's first pass on the comic wasn't so bad, but after GA married Black Canary, the comic tanked, and now — post-Winick — it's ureadable. I know there's a big GA story line on the way (about him going to prson or something), but it sounds sucky. Knowing DC, GA will become Solomon Grundy's bitch or something.

The Shield: This comic actually contains a few cool elements — like how the lead hero's powers and costume manifest — but it just seems superfluous. What's the point of having another patriotic hero when we have so many on the stands already? I just don't think the Red Circle heroes have enough of a following to warrant a line of books.

Cable: I'm amazed that a book all about two people (Cable and Hope) running from Bishop has lasted this long. A complete waste of a series. Can we get this thing over with already?

The Outsiders: Such a troubled comic. A lot of creative teams have tried a lot of different approaches, but it's just a mess. At this point it changes focus too much, and the characterizations are just all wrong. Peter Tomasi's stint started out with promise, but DC bigwig Dan Didio is writing it now; after reading the first issue, I'm not impressed. I'm a fan of the original series (a guilty pleasure), but my eyes bleed when I read it these days.

All Wildstorm comics: I used to love Wildstorm comics. Alan Moore's Wildcats and his ABC line? Incredible. Warren Ellis' Authority? Stellar. Jim Lee's art? Fantastic. So, who's idea was it to make the heroes operate on a post-apocalyptic Earth and then publish nothing else but videogame tie-ins? Mr. Lee, you've gotta do something about this!

More to come ...

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Comic books I hate ...

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM

I was talking to a guy yesterday who doesn't read my weekly comic book review column or this blog on a regular basis and he (let's call him DUSTIN) remarked that I don't really write negative reviews about the comics I read. And, although I do slam books regularly, his words got me to thinking that maybe I don't write enough about the comics I actually don't like. That said, here's a list of comics I currently detest:

Milestone Forever No. 1: I liked a few of the titles published by this multicultural imprint of DC back in the day, but I was never a rabid fan. This book (pictured left) marks the return of the company's characters, and it's just awful. Elementary art from Mark Bright and an incredibly corny story line that works or fails based on your affection for the Milestone pantheon of heroes and villains. I have no affection for the folks, so the nostalgia doesn't move me.

Justice Society of America and/or JSA All-Stars: The JSA worked well under the talented pen of Geoff Johns — but he's gone and now the current creative teams just seem content to revel in lameness. Stale villains, bland action sequences, terrible dialogue and characterization that's just wrong. I love the team and even I can't read this shit anymore.

Booster Gold: Time travel comics suck. Why? Because nothing of consequence can actually happen due to the fact that you can't change the past. Just bring Booster to the present, and make him a money-grubbing hero again.

The Hulk: Who is Red Hulk? Who gives a shit?! Jeph Loeb and Marvel have been stretching this story out for so long, whoever ends up being revealed as the man behind the red bad guy — even if it's Jean Grey or something — won't be worth the wait.

Deadpool: I can't believe people read this. It's the most inconsequential book on the stands — yet, it sells. Amazing.

Uncanny X-Men: Yeah, I've given up on this title. It's just dull. How dull? Well one of the big sub-plots for the last few issues has been: How can the X-Men keep their island from sinking? The solution? Namor ended up building a pillar under it. Now, I'm no engineering genius, but how was this a big deal? The X-Men figure out ways to jump from one side of the universe and back every other month; they can't figure out how to build a pillar?!

More to come ...

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

T.G.I.W.: Thank God It's Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 9:54 AM

It's Wednesday.

For normal folk, that means "hump day" has arrived and the weekend is almost here. But for geeks like me, Wednesday is a truly glorious day — it's the day that new comic books flow into shops all around the country.

I've been personally making a weekly trek to the comic shop on this day of the week for more than 20 years, and I get excited with anticipation the same way each and every time. (And, no, I don't live with my mother.)

Anyway, what's hitting stands today and what's worth grabbing? I'll be providing a few "Quickie Comic Reviews" later today, but here's a list of stuff I'm planning to pick up:

The latest issue of Previews: In case you don't know, Previews is the catalog of upcoming comics and merchandise; it's published by the industry's largest distribution company, Diamond Comics. For collectors, Previews is an indispensable tool that shows you everything coming out from most of the comic publishers out there. I saw the art for this week's cover and it's featuring the soon-to-be-released limited series Image United. We'll see if that comic comes out on time. In the meantime, snag a copy of Previews and stay in the loop.

Usagi Yojimbo No. 122: A consistently entertaining read every month.

Batman and Robin No. 3: I've been loving Grant Morrison's relaunch of the Batman franchise, and — while this issue is a tad late — I'm excited to see how he and artist Frank Quitley wrap up the first story arc.

More DC books: Along with Batman and Robin, it looks like I'll be picking up a bunch more comics from DC this week, including the latest issues of Detective Comics (for the incredible art alone, although I am loving the Question backup story), Flash: Rebirth (another late comic, but I'm hanging on until the end) Green Lantern, Wednesday Comics, JSA and Wonder Woman.

Bart Simpson Comics No. 49: Like Usagi Yojimbo, it's just damned funny every issue.

Marvel Comics: From the folks at Marvel, I'll be on the lookout for Dark Avengers No. 8, Fantastic Four No. 570 (the start of the new creative team), Guardians of the Galaxy No. 17 (yeah, I still love it), New Avengers No. 56, New Mutants No. 4 and Secret Warriors No. 7 (one of my favorite new books).

Buck Rogers No. 3: This is my last attempt to read this comic. The first few issues were decent, but not incredible.

Check back later for a few reviews.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Top 6 things to do for comic fans NOT going to Comic-Con 2009

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 12:03 PM

OK, so every comic book reader on earth knows that Comic-Con International — the biggest comic convention in the country and one of the biggest in the world — is going down NOW in San Diego.

Yeah everbody knows it's happening but, due to various different factors (like being broke and stuff), not everybody is going. So what's a San Diego-less comic fan to do this weekend? I've got a few ideas:

Get on the Internet: Obviously, if you're reading this, you're already online. And you probably know about the various news sites to keep you informed about all the cool stuff that's bound to be announced over the next few days. Still, I'd like to suggest you follow the Beat blog. It's written and such by Heidi McDonald and she's been obsessed over Comic-Con for the last few months it seems. She's bound to have some cool stories from the Con.

Live vicariously through Twitter: Get on Twitter and follow some folks who are at the Con. Heroes Aren't Hard to Find owner Shelton Drum is supposed to go I heard.

Go mobile: If you're not by a computer and you have a phone the supports Apps (like, you know, the iPhone), you can download the Comic-Con App. It promises to keep you up to date  with all the poppin' things poppin' in Cali. I plan to download it later. I'll tell you what I think when I do.

Read free comics: Here's your chance to finally read that stack of Free Comic Book Day comics you haven't got around to yet. Might I recommend Owly?

Even more free comics: As you probably know, the library is filled with great graphic novels. This weekend, visit a local branch and check out some good stuff — like the Wonder Woman collections from the 1960s where Princess Diana has no powers and uses kung fu. Cool stuff. If you live in Charlotte, the best library for graphic novels is the Checkit Outlet Uptown near the Green. It's not open on the weekend, but you have a few hours before it closes today. Hurry!

Raid the quarter bins: Now's the time to go longbox diving in search of off-the-wall comics from back in the day. I'm still building my collection of Defenders comics. Gotta get that story arc with the Mandrill! Talking monkeys rock.

Aaaaaand ... that's all I can think of. If you're stuck in Charlotte or wherever, don't fret. Jut follow my tips and you probably won't slit your wrists. Anyway, check back Monday for a roundup of all the big announcements from Comic-Con.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

DC — not so sucky anymore

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 2:41 PM


It seems like it wasn't so long ago that I was bitchin' and moanin' about the comic books being published by DC Comics. I mean, I really was not digging a lot of what the company was doing.

It's not that I hated everything, but if you read any of my weekly "Comic Proportions" columns, you may remember my discontent with a slew of DC books. I complained about Judd Winick's aimless run on Green Arrow and Black Canary, hated on the ambiguous and slow Final Crisis, and talked shit about the confusing weekly series Trinity ... among other comics.

But these days, I've really gotta admit that DC is putting out some stellar stuff. I would even go so far as to say that I think DC is publishing some of the most exciting mainstream comics on the stands.

"Like what?" you may ask. Well, I'm loving:

Wednesday Comics: The newest weekly series after Trinity, Wednesday Comics is DC's tribute to old, full-page comic strips. The giant-size publication features work by the best in the business. Seriously. I'm talking Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Joe Kubert, Mike Allred, Kyle Baker and the list goes on.

Blackest Night: Where Final Crisis slipped, Blackest Night goes all the way for the touchdown. An "event" comic in every sense of the word, this comic takes place across the cosmos and pits DC's greatest heroes — led by Green lantern — against truly deadly (and dead) foes. And big action starts from the first issue. This ain't no talkin' head book. This is a true summer blockbuster.

Batman and Robin: Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley — fresh off All-Star Superman — team again for a brand-new incarnation of the Dynamic Duo. This time around, Batman is really the original Robin, Dick Grayson, and Robin is the homicidal illegitimate son of Bruce Wayne. Seriously. The art is amazing and the dialogue is insane. Cool shit.

And there's more — like Wonder Woman, Superman: World of New Krypton, Jonah Hex, JSA vs. Kobra, Detective Comics, Madame Xanadu. I also must mention that I love the company's "second feature" program, which places back-up stories in several regular monthly titles that star second-tier characters like the Question, Blue Beetle and Manhunter.

Yeah, it's safe to say the DC s on a roll. One day we may be remembering this time as another "Golden Age" for the company. Time will tell. For now, I'll read and enjoy.

Oh ... one last thing: Teen Titans still sucks. Can we fix it please? Soon?

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