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Friday, November 28, 2008

"Batman R.I.P," one more time

So I have mixed feelings about this week's end of "Batman R.I.P." The bad guys leaving Batman alone to suffer his last moments buried alive, instead of just finishing the job - or at least keeping an eye on the grave? Come on. .... And then Batman suddenly seems back to his old self instead of his tortured, somewhat crazed "backup" identity. What's up with that? And does anyone REALLY think Bruce/Batman aren't coming back at some point?

But at least Grant Morrison makes clear his respect for the Dark Knight, who always seems to be one step ahead of the villains. I loved the psychological aspects of the story and Batman's insight into his own inner health, or lack thereof, and how the story tied into Bats' quest in "52."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Batman R.I.P"

"Batman" No. 681, the final chapter of "Batman R.I.P.," arrives tomorrow. Newsarama has a preview. I'll be talking next week with DC executive editor Dan DiDio about the storyline and where things go from here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This and that

Haven't gotten to the comic book store this week; I'm laid up for a few days after surgery (which I'll be writing about in the Life section.) So to occupy the hours, I've been grabbing graphic novels off the bookshelf pretty much at random to re-read. So far this week, my reading has included Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" (I'll never be able to get over the treatment of poor Dick Grayson); "Planetary: The Fourth Man" (loved that series); and the first hardcover collection of Alan Moore's "Top 10" (a wonderful "Hill Street Blues" meets a totally superpowered world vibe.)

Did you catch "Heroes" on Monday night? It had a scene at a comic book shop called Sam's Comics, no doubt named for axed producer Jeph Loeb's late son, Sam. And a cute line by Hiro about all the changes in comic books lately: Captain America's dead! Hulk's red!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday cheer

This Sunday's Comics Fan is my annual comic book gift guide. After I handed it in, I l came across the Wireless catalog, which has a few cool comic-book related items. Such as: a Wonder Woman limited edition figure, part of a series commemorating the first appearances of classic DC characters; the "DC Vault," packed with "top-quality reproduction memorabilia" (I had written about the "Marvel Vault" last year, but now there's the DC version, too); and "Batman: Murder at Wayne Mansion," a book that's apparently a murder mystery that the reader can solve with the help of maps, new clippings, forensic samples and other clues. Check them all out at www.thewirelesscatalog.com.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Doomsday's coming

I only caught the last few minutes of last night's "Smallville," but judging from the wrap-up and the previews after, I better not miss next week's episode, which looks to feature the return of Lana and the full-on introduction of Doomsday. Meanwhile, Doomsday is at the center of things in this week's "Action Comics." Coincidence or clever timing? I dunno.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Kingdom Come Special"

Small stack of comics this week from Bargain Comics.

"Justice Society of American Kingdom Come Special: Superman" was a must for me because it features the art of Alex Ross. It's a treat to see his work on interiors as opposed to just covers. Ross also wrote the story - which I can't comment on because I haven't had time to really read it yet. I've only breezed through it to admire the art. The special ties into the Gog storyline in JSA which, I have to say, is really going on too long.

"Detective Comics" No. 850 wraps up the "Heart of Hush" story. I still don't see how this whole thing has been a "Batman R.I.P" tie-in. There's a defining moment between Batman and Catwoman near the end that would be essential for all Bat-fans, except for the fact that it's washed away in the very next panel. You've been warned.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Batman: Cacophony"

DC sent me an advance copy of issue No. 1 of "Batman: Cacophony," written by Kevin Smith and featuring the return of the bizarre masked killer known as Onomatopoeia. In the first issue, Onomatopoeia frees the Joker from Arkham Asylum. I've got to say, Smith's take on Joker as a sexual deviant left me a little queasy. Joker's goal, it appears, is not just to kill Batman but to "defile his carcass sexually." Joker also drops his drawers in an anticipated reward for his rescuer. Amusing, perhaps, but out of character. I kept thinking, "Joker and Onomatopoeia Make a Porno." (Smith's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" recently arrived in theaters.)

I did, however, really like the art by Smith's buddy, Walt Flanagan. And the story overall was entertaining.

Friday, November 07, 2008

No "Graysons"

Looks like Dick Grayson's not headed to the small screen after all. Variety reports that plans for "The Graysons," which would have focused on Dick's days before he became Robin the Boy Wonder, have been scrapped. The CW had committed to a pilot, but Variety says that a Warner Bros. Pictures Group exec nixed the project. I had my doubts about the idea anyway. It's not like "Smallville," where Clark has time to figure out his powers and his destiny. Dick's destiny was transformed the second his parents were killed and Batman took him under his wing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A milestone for DC

I talked with DC executive editor Dan DiDio yesterday about some fresh blood for the DC universe: namely, the introduction soon into the DCU of characters from the Milestone Comics of the '90s - characters such as Icon, Hardware and Static Shock. Next year, the old Archie Comics superheroes will also find DC their home.

Icon and Hardware will be showing up in "Justice League of America" (written by Milestone co-founder Dwayne McDuffie) while it looks like Static Shock will be joining the Teen Titans. I asked DiDio if the hope is that reader demand will lead to these characters once again starring in their own series.

"Absolutely," he said. "I'm going to see which ones break out, but when you have characters like Icon, Hardware and Static, you'd be surprised if they didn't have series."

Look for more in Sunday's Comics Fan in The Gazette.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Marvel biz

I start my day reading the business wire (hey, it's my job) and found this of interest to comics fans this morning from The Associated Press:

Strong box office revenue for film 'Iron Man' helped boost Marvel Entertainment Inc.'s third-quarter earnings by 39 percent, and the licensing and comic-book publishing company on Tuesday also raised its 2008 forecast.
But 2009 will prove a different picture.
Marvel expects only "modest" performance next year, partly due to "Iron Man: revenue shifting to 2008 and no 2009 summer feature films slated for release. It also cited less expected Spider-Man-related revenue and the slowing economy's effect on the retailers who sell its character-driven merchandise.

(And this factoid, for those of us who like to read our comics, not just see them up on the big screen:)

Publishing sales slipped 3 percent to $34 million, as lower trade paperback sales and custom publishing weren't totally offset by higher sales of traditional comics.