Directcurrents2logo

Direct Current 2.0

Week of July 17, 2013

Where the new guy introduces himself and Bewares’ the Batman!


Welcome one and all to the first of what I hope to be many weekly columns focusing on the DC Universe. My thanks go to Sean and Jim for letting me use a little corner of the internet to ruminate on DC Comics, its past, it’s present and what I hope will be its future.  Before we start that however let me fill you in a little about who I am and how I got here.

My name, like the great Sensi is also Jim. I am 49 this year and live in Maine with my great wife Clarissa, two wonderful children and two grandchildren, along with 2 semi psychotic dogs.

I started collecting comics back in the early seventies and had a pretty good collection going by the time I went to college back in 1981. Then like many collectors I know, disaster struck, and my collection was destroyed by a huge force of nature, my mother. I am sure many of you can relate to the fact that parents have more destructive power when it comes to collections then the Joker and Lex Luthor combined! A small part of the collection survived and I built that back up until I had over 30,000 individual issues at the beginning of this year. But that’s another story, one that I hope to get into in the next few weeks as I want to discuss take the rise of digital comics and the comparative disaster that is the back issue market place.

During the 90’s and up until 2009 I was a frequent customer at numerous comic shops in New England and began to discover that I was a fairly unique comic fan. While I did collect comics from other companies (Marvel, Dynamite, Charton, First, to name a few) I was a DC Fan. Marvel fans then, as well as now, were a huge part of comics fandom, DC fans were not as prevalent.

I took it upon myself to evangelize for DC Comics. In the early part of the 21st century I was given the opportunity to work for the website Toonzone (http://www.toonzone.com) as a forum administrator in their comics’ forum. I began to review comics, or perhaps over review them! In some instances my reviews went to almost 17 pages. That was a lot of work, but I loved it. Every single review I did was of a DC Comic. I started talking about DC Direct as well.

After 2 years at Toonezone I moved over to a new site, Comics News International, which no longer exists as far as I can tell. I was there for the launch as the General Editor and Chief reporter.  I lasted there about 6 months when I realized that I was spending more time working with them, and less with my family.

A new opportunity at that point presented itself, I was given the reins of the DC Direct Yahoo group, where every month the new DC Direct/DC Collectables solicitations can be found (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dcdirect/) .

I have begun to realize though that I need to give back again to the comics community, that I miss being able to write and express my ideas, and present them to fellow DC Fans. Again, I have to thank Sean and Jim for this opportunity. And like them, I agree that we get enough negativity on the internet about our passion. I may not always be thrilled about how a story line for a character is going, but I will never forget the love I have for the medium.

So, now, let me explain where the name for the column comes from. If you were a fan in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s of DC Comics, you would often find a full page of DC Comic news call Direct Currents.  It was a chatty, fun filled, DC answer to Marvels Bullpen Bulletins.  I loved it. So when I asked Sean and Jim if I could write a column for the website I suggested that it be called Direct Currents. Sean loved the idea, but suggested that we give it the 2.0 label. And that’s where we are today! I hope to be chatty, drop a little DC history on the way, preach to the converted, and try to get DC to publish titles that we all would love (Hey DC!!!!! It’s time for a New Who’s Who!!!!!)

So enough about me, let’s get to the good stuff!

Item 1: Last week’s unsung hero comic has to be Wildstorms Astro City #2.  It’s a little jarring in its disconnect from issue 1, but wow can Kurt Busiek tell a story. Don’t worry if you have never read an Astro City book, Kurt is making it uber easy for you. Issues 1 and 2 give you the Readers Digest condensed version of the back stories, and even for long time readers this is a gem! If you want to learn more about Astro City head over to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astro_City. But as my girl River Song says, “Spoilers”

Issue 2 answers a question that a lot of comics fans have often pondered. How does the general public get the attention of the Superhero community? Sure, the President can call on the heroes and have them stop an alien invasion, but what if you think your next door neighbor is a super villain? DO you call 911 and talk to the local PD? What if the Heroes set up an 800 number where anyone could call in tips?

It is an AWESOME read, and I think most fans of the genre will love Busiek’s take on it.

It’s my thought that Busiek is one of the most underrated writers of the modern era, his unique take on superhero comics is a joy to read.  He has done lots of work for Marvel and DC, and his stories are always tight and fun.  His Avengers stories are first rate! Give it a try. I often think of Astro City and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents as kindred comics. If you like one, you will like the other.

And speaking of the Agents, remember that T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is coming back this fall from I.D.W., and you can bet that I will be reviewing it here!

Item 2: Beware the Batman. Set in the early years of Bruce’s career as The Batman, it shows  a batman who is not the great detective he is today, but also not the greenhorn that he was in Batman: Year One.

After one episode it’s hard to tell where this is going. I already like it better than the first few season of The Batman. The yard stick, I think, for most of us is the Dini/Timm creation. Fair or unfair that show left a huge impression on Bat fans, and everything that follows it is going to have to endure that test.  The show uses the same type of computer animation that The Green Lantern series did, and while that was suitable for GL, it’s not a great fit for the Dark Knight.  It does take some getting used to. I know they are going for a noir look, but that’s hard to pull off with computers. The scripting is good, and we get some great DCU moments with certain characters that make an appearance. I don’t want to spoil it for you, let’s just say they are Bruce Wayne’s business Partners.  But at the same time, while it’s a nice bone for the fans, it adds nothing to the story, and it is a little puzzling why they are here at all.

The characterization seems to be right on, except for Alfred. This is not the Alfred from the Pre 52, or the New 52. This Alfred is a man of his own. Do I like it? So far, yes. It makes sense.  You really need to watch it to get the whole idea.  And watch the end, carefully. You might just recognize an outsider.

Beware the Batman is on Cartoon Network, and airs at 10:00 AM on the East Coast.

Item 3:  Breaking news from DC, and the best news in weeks , a new Harley Quinn series from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.  There is a great interview with this dynamic duo over on Comic Book Resources (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=46652).

Finally, if you aren’t reading Injustice: Gods Among Us, why? It is the best alternate DC Universe story that the company has done since Kingdom Come. MOVE IT SAILOR!

Please feel free to contact me if you feel that I made a mistake, or you have a suggestion for a future column. Here is my email: jdurdan@hotmail.com.

In Brightest Day

Jim D!