All posts by DrNorge

Revisiting Origins and Omens

Revisiting Origins and Omens

Two things.  First, it’s been six months since DC went and gave us all these mysterious Origins and Omens stories with our good friend Scar as the narrator.  So, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a couple of them for the upcoming weeks and see how those images and stories that were foreshadowed have come to light, and which ones have yet to have meaning to us.  Second, we’re creeping up on the one year anniversary of Life in the Gutter and I figured I should do something special to commemorate the occasion.

This week, we look at the Origins and Omens stories of Black Canary and Brainiac.  (Note: Some of these stories are from books that I either don’t read or have only recently started reading.  I will list these at the end of this column, and if anyone would like to volunteer to write something up about the Origins and Omens found in that particular title I would love to feature it here so we can have a complete look at these stories.)

Black Canary

“A poet of the planet Gaia once wrote, ‘Love lift us up where we belong.’  The archer and the siren believe their love has lifted them up where they belong.  They are mistaken.”  Actually, three poets share the credit for the line.  Buffy Sainte Marie, Will Jennings, and Jack Nitzsche wrote the song “Up Where We Belong,” and it was sung by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.  Movie buffs will remember that it was the love theme from An Officer and a Gentleman.  But, that’s neither here nor there. 

The origins portion of the story takes us back to Dinah’s high school days, complete with black hair and absolutely no hints of the kick-ass kind of woman she’s going to turn out to be.  Personally, I think it’s a nice touch to show just how unsure she is of herself as a student in high school.  She doesn’t go out of the house when she has a zit, and she obsesses over being popular and whether or not a boy likes her.  And she talks.  A lot.  I mean, really.  If she kept her mouth shut for a minute, she probably would have noticed how much it was bothering her (presumably best) friend Sam that she was constantly obsessing over this one particular guy. 

Sam suggests that Dinah scream to get rid of her frustrations; his mom is a shrink and has her patients do it often to help them cope.  So Dinah screams, and what appears to be the first occurrence of Dinah’s sonic scream knocks Sam across the football field with its force.

The next visual we see is Dinah (with blond hair as Black Canary) knocking out a window with her sonic scream and an innocent bystander coming in contact with the sound.  The doctors tell the patient’s relative that he is deaf for the rest of his life, since the noise—whatever it was—damaged the hairs inside his ear to the point that implants are not even possible.  The patient, whose name is revealed to be Sean, is unable to hear what his brother and the doctor are talking about, as well as what the anchor on the news is saying.  But he sees a picture of Black Canary, and—presumably, with the help of closed captioning—discerns that she is the cause of his deafness.  The determined and downright pissed look on his face says it all.

Those of you following along at home know that the creepy dude with the blaster in the upper right of the omens page is this same person, now calling himself Discord.  His coming out party in Star City included killing his brother and shutting off all the sound in the city, among other equally bad acts that didn’t even get mentioned.

Another person we see (in the upper left) is the unbelievably cooky and delusional Cupid.  We know she has a thing for the Emerald Archer, and she goes to great lengths to show him just how much she “loves him,” including killing most of his rogues gallery, minus Merlyn.  Yeah, she just turned him into a vegetable.  Lovely girl, isn’t she?  Has she held a gun to his head yet while she kisses him?  We might see a redefinition of the term “shotgun wedding.”

As for the rest, we haven’t seen Speedy in a while, but artist Mike Norton told me at Chicago Comic-Con that she’s in issue #24, so whatever is going on with her will be coming up soon.  The rest of what we see if various instances of Ollie and Dinah being at odds with each other, which is something that’s been happening with increasing frequency.  

Brainiac

Oh, Lex.  Ye be the sculptor and we are the clay.  At least, that’s what he thought until Brainiac told him otherwise.  The story is simple and to the point.  General Lane is in possession of Brainiac and Lex has been given the task of unlocking the alien technology, which is appears he has.  Lex also believes himself to be in control of Brainiac, but the Brain InterActive Construct soon informs him otherwise and reveals its plans to Lex.

Okay, so Lex isn’t in control of Brainiac, but Scar tells us the Book of Black says there is someone Lex will have control over, but he is dead.  For once, Scar says, he questions the Book of Black.  And with good reason.  If the  large image of our beloved Superboy wasn’t a hint six months ago, I’m sure anyone who read Legion of 3 Worlds #4 is now deeply concerned for Conner and what role Lex will play in the new Adventure Comics series.

Help, anyone?

Below is a list of the Origins and Omens stories that I could use help with, either because I don’t read that title or only recently jumped on.  If you’d like to recap one of these for me, type it up and send it to gutterlife@gmail.com and I’ll include it in the upcoming weeks.

Booster Gold                                                  Justice Society of America

Green Lantern                                                 The Outsiders

Green Lantern Corps                                      Vigilante

Thanks again for reading and we’ll keep following up on these stories in the upcoming weeks.

Once Again, I Have To Disagree…

 Once again, I have to disagree…

with Jim’s assessment that Chris Kent isn’t long for this world.  In their discussion of Action Comics 879, Jim mentioned—and Sean somewhat agreed—that they believed that Chris wouldn’t live very much longer because of the legend of Flamebird and Nightwing; that is, that one always sacrifices themselves for the other.

But I will refer you all back to the last pages of Action Comics Annual #12.  In those pages, the history of Flamebird and Nightwing, and their self-sacrificing tendencies, are revealed.  However, Greg Rucka made it a point to say that while other incarnations of these two have gone down that path, that the history for this incarnation has yet to be written.  Sure, it could all be a ruse, a red herring, if you will, but writers love to leave clues in their work.  They love to allude to future events in such a manner that readers forget about small and seemingly inconsequential words that are thrown in so that they resemble an afterthought.  To me, the fact that Rucka said that their path has yet to be written says that we shouldn’t immediately assume that one of them is going to die.  Sure, that might be exactly what happens, but I don’t think we should look at these characters as being around for the short term.

I do think we should consider that Chris Kent has some hard days ahead of him.  This rapid aging thing that he’s experiencing is painful and seems to happen very randomly.  Funny, but I also think that a decision made at the end of Supergirl #43 could be vital in helping determine what exactly is wrong with Chris. 

As a side note, I should mention that during the Superman panel at San Diego Comic Con this last weekend, a fan asked Greg Rucka if Nightwing and Flamebird would “hook up.”  Rucka responded by saying something to the effect of, “It’s Nightwing and Flamebird.  It’s not an issue of if, but when.”

Blackest Night

I have to say that one of the titles I’ve resisted picking up, for one reason or another, is Green Lantern.  I have, however, been second-guessing myself in the last couple months.  Even though I don’t read it, I have been making every attempt to keep up on what’s happening.  And it’s been slowly gaining my interest.  Then, I read Blackest Night #1. 

Wow.  Just…wow.  This whole “War of Light” thing is very intriguing, and it’s totally convinced me that I need to get caught up with the Green Lantern universe.  So, as my budget allows, I’ll be picking up trades and getting caught up, as well as starting to read Green Lantern on a regular basis.

And I have to say, I honestly felt very bad for Sean when I read the last pages of the first issue of Blackest Night.  Let’s hope that the whole reincarnation bit will work in their favor in the very near future.  The thought of Black Lantern Hawkman terrorizing the Atom doesn’t make my stomach sit very well.

Smallville News from Comic Con

Anyone who’s read this column on a regular basis knows how deep my love for Smallville goes.  I was really rewarded this weekend when Tom Welling finally attended one.  I wasn’t there, of course, but I was able to follow the panel on Newsarama, where it was announced that he is now a co-executive producer for the show.

But what was the biggest news of the panel, even when a pseudo-Superman suit made an appearance on the Season 9 preview trailer?  Geoff Johns is coming back to write another episode, people!!!  We don’t know what episode number it is yet, but we do know that it will be called “Society” and feature the Justice Society of America.  Let the speculation regarding which characters will show up begin.  Personally, I think Jay Garrick and Alan Scott are right up there as being givens.  The only potential problem with Alan Scott is that pesky movie about the other Green Lantern being announced, especially since it now has a star in Ryan Reynolds.

So tell me, people.  What other characters would you like to see in that “Society” episode?

My Comic Souvenir from Italy

I went to Italy specifically looking for one thing: a comic book that was Italian and written in the language.  Very early on, I found a Spirit trade in German (we were in Switzerland at the time), but I wanted to hold out for something that was unavailable in the United States.

In the Rome Airport (Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport) I found what I was looking for in what appears to be a graphic novel.  It’s in Italian, I’ve never heard of it before, and it’s somewhat disturbing in what I can gather from the artwork alone.  Chances are I will never fully understand what is going on in this book, but at least I have what I was looking for, even if I found it in the very last place we went before coming home.

Don’t Forget!!  Send me your picks for Image of the Week.  If you have a single image that stands out to you in this past week of comics, you can e-mail me at gutterlife@gmail.com or post a comment on the forums. 

Thanks for reading.

Why some Smallville fans want to see the show in line with DC Continuity (my opinion)

Why some Smallville fans want to see the show in line with DC Continuity (my opinion)

In response to the discussion that Jim and Sean had in Episode 148 during their “Legion” discussion, I wanted to give my opinion on why a fan might want to see Smallville fall in line with DC continuity. I’ve talked about this in reference to Chloe (in my October 12, 2008 blog post) and how she could possibly fit into the DC Universe without compromising the character that has been solidified on the show.

My solution was simple: make Smallville a part of the DC Multiverse, allowing the introduction of original characters and recognition of the events that have sometimes stumped long-time comic book fans that could not get past the changes made by the show’s creative team simply because “that wasn’t how it really happened.”

And Sean honestly asked a good question. Why does Smallville need to be part of continuity as opposed to being considered its own work?

Let me try to answer this question the best way I know how, as someone who has watched the show from the very beginning. One of the best proponents of the show has been the re-imagining of the Superman mythology for a new generation. They introduced Clark Kent and Lex Luthor as friends, created the characters of Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor—two characters who were at times more popular than some of the more established and storied characters on the show—and asked quite a few of those “what if” questions. And isn’t that the basis for the Multiverse in the first place?

It seems to me that people either like Smallville or they don’t. Those who don’t most often cite reasons like “it’s not supposed to happen that way” and “the real Clark Kent would never do that.” Exactly. As part of the Multiverse, the changes in events and the changes in Clark Kent’s (and others’) characters can be justified. It’s not like there’s not any room at the Inn.

Trust me, I would still like to see Smallville used as a jumping off point for a new movie franchise, though the reasons are completely different (the thought of Tom Welling in tights is plenty reason for me). But at the same time, movies aren’t the same as having a connection with the source material and having a hand in creating that source material. In a way, including Smallville in the Multiverse creates a sense of justification for all the people who stuck with the show for however many seasons it ends up lasting. It says that we’re thinking outside the box and coming up with new possibilities for stories. And when it comes down to it, using the show as a jumping off point for the new movie franchise can only create so many stories. Including it in the Multiverse though, would open up a whole new realm of possibilities for stories, especially since the show’s producers have taken to introducing so many new characters from the DC universe in recent years. They might not be able to swing getting a young Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan, or Princess Diana on the show right now because of movie rights and other legal issues, but that wouldn’t be a problem if the Smallville universe was a bona fide part of the Multiverse.

Agree? Disagree? Have Comments or Questions?

By Mandy Stegall

Timestamp: Monday, January 12, 2009, 7:04 p.m.

Timestamp: Monday, January 12, 2009, 7:04 p.m.

I have a real purpose for making sure everyone knows when I’m writing this entry. A short time ago, I saw the preview on Newsarama.com for Final Crisis #6. And now all I can think is…wow, if that’s the first five pages, I’m genuinely stoked for what the rest of the issue holds. And even as I finished reading the preview, I tried in vain to click to the next page, knowing that I could click it all I wanted but would not get to see the next pages until the blessed comic book arrived in my mail box, hopefully by Friday. Let’s just hope that I have it by the time you read this, and that I haven’t lost hope and started searching around the Internet for spoilers on what happened. Yes, it has me that excited.

It’s all about the Legion right now, isn’t it?

That part about the stars aligning for Jimmy Olsen back in October was a coincidence, right? Well, it looks like it’s happened again. We just experienced the amazingness that is Geoff Johns’ “Legion” episode (no, it hasn’t actually aired at the time that I’m writing this, but come on…it’s Geoff Freaking Johns), the final issue of The Legion of Super-Heroes (issue #50) hits newsstands in a couple weeks, Adventure Comics, starring the Legion, will be dropping soon…I think you get the point.

It’s interesting to me that a team book is losing its title, but gets this kind of a push. The “Legion” episode, the re-booting of Adventure—we can even talk about Legion of 3 Worlds and all the recent appearances in Action Comics if we wanted.

Personally, I like all these pushes DC seems to be giving to its properties and how they’re stretching it beyond the comic books themselves. Even before the Smallville episode airs, there is talk about a possible Legion live-action spin-off series, which would fit in nicely should this truly be the last season of Smallville.

A Call for Suggestions

Anyone who has been reading this column from the beginning, or has at least read the introduction, knows that my love affair with comics is fairly new. Most of the trades I have are of fairly recent story arcs, with the exception of some Superman trades from around the time of Y2K.

So here’s my call: Suggest some reading to me. What are some of the definitive trades or collected editions in the DC Universe? Please, suggest anything and everything. I’m ready to broaden my horizons.

You can e-mail your suggestions, comments, or questions to me at gutterlife@gmail.com

Thanks again for reading.

Jimmy Olsen for President?

Jimmy Olsen for President?

Okay, so maybe not. But after re-watching an episode of Smallville (“Identity,” which aired on October 30) I started to wonder if there was a major “We Love Jimmy” campaign going on between the writers of Smallville and the editors over at DC comics.

You see, about the same time that the Jimmy Olsen Special hit comic book stores, The CW aired an episode showing off Jimmy’s ability to do research and be a real investigative reporter. And what was the Special all about? Well, it was about him making a name for himself without relying on Lois and Clark, of course!

Coincidence? I think not.

Even if Jimmy was put off the trail by Clark in “Identity,” it still showed that he had the chops to be a reporter. Sure, we all know that he was right in identifying Clark as the “Red and Blue Blur,” but that’s not the point. And the way he went about figuring it out? Classic. Even though he is portrayed as roughly being the same age as Clark on the show, his copy and errand boy enthusiasm was shining through in a way that was very reminiscent of comic book Jimmy.

And by this time, we probably all know that the purpose of the Special in the comics was to build Jimmy up for the period of time after New Krypton when Superman is off Earth and his main title is left in the hands of his supporting characters. I’m sure Jimmy got a nice pat on the back from Perry for bringing the Guardian out of hiding and getting the story.

But still, I’m of the mind that the two events might have been brought to the public on purpose. And if they were, score one point for the new executive producers on Smallville for finding a way to bridge the sometimes wide gap between the show and the comics.

Teen Titans Recruitment Drive

I’m sure any reader of Teen Titans knows about this as well, as issue #66 hit this last Wednesday. I haven’t read it yet (it should be arriving from DCBS first of the week), but from the looks of it, Bombshell might be sticking around. And from the looks of the cover, Spoiler might also be around.

But how much of Robin’s solo storyline, as well as what has recently happened in RIP, feeds into Teen Titans? If they stay true to the other books, then Spoiler has much to answer for if Robin is able to trust her enough for her to be a Titan. And if she does become a member, I can see some awkward moments ahead between Steph and Cassie.

Can’t say that I know much about Static, other than he’s going to stick.

Personally, I would love to see Speedy/Mia join back up with the Titans. I really enjoyed reading her in Green Arrow and Black Canary, but I really think she will shine and have the chance to grow more as a character out from under the watchful eye of her “parents.” And who knows? Maybe Dodger can show up and help out from time to time. I would be up for that.

It’s not DC, but…

Oh, how I wish it was. I am positively in love with The Umbrella Academy. I read Apocalypse Suite in trade, but now the Dallas story arc is under way and I’m able to enjoy the story as it unfolds. And as it turns out, I’m enjoying it immensely. I have a whole new respect for Mr. Gerard Way. I was somewhat of a My Chemical Romance fan before I even knew that he wrote comic books, but now I have great affection for him as an artist.

And now comes the news that Umbrella Academy might be making its way to the big screen in the near future. Hell yeah, man! I can’t wait to see how they incorporate Pogo and their mother, the animated mannequin.

Regardless, it’s new and fresh. So if you’re looking for a book outside of the DC Universe, by all means look over to Dark Horse and check out the Umbrella Academy.

Contact me…

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the column, please feel free to contact me at gutterlife@gmail.com

If I could go on a Tangent for a moment…

If I could go on a Tangent for a moment…

More specifically, let’s talk about Tangent: Superman’s Reign. When this maxi-series started earlier this year, I picked it up on a whim. I had no prior knowledge of the Tangent Universe and what it was all about. I had just started reading monthlies, and frankly the reason I was drawn to it was because Superman’s name was on it.

But I picked it up, not sure what to expect. I was more than a little thrown to see the Tangent version of the Flash, wearing a pink suit with a yellow sunburst on the front, as well as names like Lori Lemaris and Harvey Dent.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this series has been seeing the back-up story, or the “History Lesson,” as it has been called, told by a seemingly unassuming techie by the name of Guy Gardner. Honestly, I don’t even want to call it a back-up story, because it’s been just as pleasurable as the main story. And for someone who began the series with absolutely no knowledge of the Tangent Universe, the second story in the book was vital to my understanding of the Universe as a whole.

The Tangent counterparts of the New Earth heroes (and, in some cases, villains) has been a great break for me from the DCU. Wait, I think Jim would call this book a “palate cleanser.” Sure, it’s serious and has some trans-universe implications, but it does take place outside the actual continuity of the DCU, and therefore is a nice book to read right after a heavy book such as Final Crisis.

I don’t know that I will actively search out past stories in the Tangent Universe, but this is definitely a case where I took a chance on a book that I had absolutely no prior knowledge about and it has paid off for me in the long run. I look forward to reading The Superman’s Reign every month, and from the way events are starting to fall into place, it appears as if I will be left very satisfied.

Inspired by comments in Episode 144

Sean and Jim had some interesting comments that caught my attention during their conversation about Renee’s part in Final Crisis: Revelations. I liked seeing her being brought in as possibly being involved with a team during issue #4. But instead of having her in the type of book you suggested (a spy, espionage-type book), I wonder how she might possibly fit in as a part of the new Justice League group being formed by James Robinson. My understanding of the book at this point is that this Justice League, headed by Hal Jordan, is intended to be more of a pro-active group. And now that we see that Renee has fully embraced her role as the Question and is working so hard in Revelations to help fix the situation, I can see her accepting a situation once again where she is dependent to certain degrees on a team once again. Doing so would mark a period of closure and healing for her character, since she has been burned so much in the past when she has put her trust in others.

And plus, any way we can see her character on a monthly basis would be a good thing. I’m still holding out for a solo series, but I would settle for Renee’s Question on a team.

New Format

One of the hardest parts of doing this blog once a week, (or so) is that I sometimes have a hard time picking just one topic to write about on here. And when I can’t narrow it down, I tend to put off writing anything at all. So to keep that from happening, I’m going to attempt writing about two or three topics a week. Sure, it might mean that you see me write about Smallville more often, but at least it will be shorter in length.

And if anyone ever has any questions, comments, or just wants to hear (or in this case, read) my opinions on a certain book, you can email me at gutterlife@gmail.com.

By Mandy Stegall

Celebrity Death Match: Geoff Johns vs. Mark Millar

Celebrity Death Match: Geoff Johns vs. Mark Millar

It seems that both of these guys want to pen a Superman movie. Good for them. I’m dying to see a new one, whether it’s Brandon Routh, Tom Welling, or any other new phenom to get in the tights and spit curl his hair.

But if Superman Returns did nothing else, it reinforced the Superman fans’ love of the traditional mythology when it comes to the movies. Lois Lane is the spunky reporter with the hots for Superman, not a thirty-something emo with a five-year-old Superman love child. Simply said, the fans don’t want a re-imagining; they want the same kind of “hell yeah” moments that brought in $1 billion for The Dark Knight last summer.

The two biggest names that have come across the wire with interests in writing a new Superman movie are Mark Millar (of Wanted fame) and Geoff Johns, the current god of anything and everything Superman and DC in general. Mark Millar’s experience with the Superman character extends as far as Superman: Red Son, an Elseworlds tale. And Johns, well, the turn around of the Superman titles in the last couple years is largely due to his run on Action Comics. And I’m sure we’re all strongly anticipating his Superman: Secret Origin miniseries coming up in 2009.

Millar has said in various interviews that his vision for a Superman movie is a darker tale, much like his Red Son story. Sorry, but as interesting as Red Son might have been, it’s not the Superman people want to see. I want Kansas, Clark Kent, the Daily Planet, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lex Luthor, and the Big Blue Boy Scout in all his Kryptonian farm boy glory.

Johns is so in tune with the Superman universe right now, one might think that he actually is Superman. He certainly is the Superman of DC Comics right now. He said this week in an interview on MTV.com that he “would love a crack at Superman.” My only question at this point is why the head honchos at Warner Bros. haven’t already made an official announcement. What are they waiting for? Johns is the Holy Grail.

I liken the idea of Millar writing a Superman movie to Joe Quesada being hired to write a live-action Wonder Woman movie. The obvious questions about character familiarity have to be raised. Character research would certainly be involved, but I personally would feel a whole hell of a lot better handing a franchise the size of Superman over to someone who already has inside-out knowledge of the character and RESPECTS what Superman is all about. Suggesting a departure from the traditional Superman formula suggests that it no longer works. But frankly, we all could use a couple heroes like Superman. Do us all a favor, Millar: stick with Marvel.

By Mandy Stegall

I’m totally ripping off this idea from a column on Newsarama

I’m totally ripping off this idea from a column on Newsarama

Sorry Vaneta Rogers, who wrote an op/ed column about the absence of Twilight comic books, for ripping off your story idea. But, I tend to disagree with you.

First off, it should be noted that I am more than just a little obsessed with the Twilight Saga. I read the first three books in less than two weeks, worked a midnight release party for Breaking Dawn at our local Waldenbooks (owned by Borders) in which I was tempted to start reading even when I got home at 2 in the morning, and proceeded to read the final chapter in three days time. I bought my tickets for the Twilight movie three weeks ago, and I’ve been counting down the hours all week. It’s like Harry Potter all over again.

So why isn’t Twilight a comic book yet? Good question. Rogers pointed out that Twilight is a Warner Bros. film and that Warner Bros. also owns DC Comics, so it would be easy for them to throw the story of Edward and Bella into a comic book, maybe on the Wildstorm imprint.

Uh, no.

Here’s my issue. Twilight just isn’t meant for the comic medium. Sure, the people who read the series are already avid readers and would readily pick it up and find themselves in comic shops. But would the product really live up to the books in quality, and would it be able to capture the same tone of the book? I don’t think so. I have a fear that a Twilight comic book would attach the likenesses of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who play Edward and Bella, respectively, to the characters. Don’t get me wrong—I think both characters are very talented and great choices for the movie versions of the characters. But at the same time, part of the magic of reading a novel is creating your own image of a character. And I honestly can’t see a comic version of Edward topping the one I’ve created in my imagination.

And anyways, these aren’t your father’s vampires. Sure, there are some exciting action scenes toward the end, but these are fun-loving vampires—vegetarians, as they call themselves. They refuse to eat human flesh and be monsters, instead choosing to live peacefully among mortals. Doesn’t it seem just a little wrong to have a vampire in comics that doesn’t go on killing sprees?

And the biggest reason of all, in my opinion, is that it will never live up to the novel. A comic book version of Twilight will undoubtedly make changes to the script in order for it to work better in the medium. If it has to be changed, then it just shouldn’t be done at all. A Twilight comic done poorly would only enrage die-hard fans of the series, me included.

Here’s where I agree with Vaneta Rogers, though. In the Twilight universe, there are plenty of untold stories about the pasts of the various vampires and werewolves. If anything, those are the stories to be told in comics. The ones before Bella arrives on the scene—and as the Cullen family is still forming—are the ones most likely to succeed in the comic medium. The vampire family of the Cullens and the werewolves of the Quileute tribe have a lengthy and rocky past, and that would make for some interesting storytelling.

Stephenie Meyer may be a comic book geek (the many comic references in her books solidify that fact), but I think she knows where to stop the insanity. Hopefully she’ll recognize that Twilight itself doesn’t work in the comic medium and put a kibosh on the whole thing before the idea gets too out of hand.

By Mandy Stegall

Don’t Kill Me, But…

Don’t kill me, but…

I’m dreading what happens to my beloved Green Arrow/Black Canary when writer Judd Winick leaves after issue #14, which is out this week. I know his style of writing doesn’t sit well with many comic book readers, but I personally love the way it fits with the Green Arrow family. They are, after all, a bunch of smart @$$ characters, and Winick seems to excel when writing them.

Let’s back-track for a moment. I just started getting my comics from DCBS, but right now I’m only getting them once a month (which is changing soon because I can’t handle only reading comics every four weeks) and just got issue #13 in the mail this past week, even though it’s been almost a month since it was released. It ended up in the middle of my pile—which was quite large, in my opinion—but the minute I read it I realized I should have maybe saved it for last except for all the New Krypton books I had to read.

The books toward the bottom of my read pile are usually my favorites and the ones I think are the best right now. Still being new to the concept of having a pull list and everything that goes along with it, the books I read tend to rotate in and out as I figure out what I enjoy the most. But GA/BC? That book has been on my pull list from the very beginning, and I have never even considered bumping it from my list. It really is that good.

Sure, the hunt for Connor Hawke seemed to go on FOREVER, but it was entertaining at times. After all, the search gave us Dodger. I’m looking forward to seeing where he could possibly fit into the DCU in the coming months and if the writers will take advantage of the character and everything he has going for him. I mean, here’s a guy from across the pond in his early 20s, has a thing for Mia, and seems to have seen the light when it comes to fighting for the good guys. Ollie and Dinah probably couldn’t have found Connor if not for Dodger, so I hope he doesn’t get shipped off someplace never to be heard from again. From the sound of it, Mia isn’t going to be seen as much in GA/BC now that Connor is safe so she might find her way back to the Teen Titans with Dodger following behind her.

I’m also interested to see where they take the whole situation with Connor. Apparently he has no memory of being a crime fighter in addition to his newfound invulnerability. If I dropped a knife on my foot, I’m pretty sure that I would be in some extraordinary pain. Ollie and Dinah even looked like they were feeling his pain. Too bad he wasn’t feeling it. The upcoming solicitations promise that we’ll be amazed at what he can do now, and that it’s an after effect of his abduction by the League of Assassins. I wonder if he’s been changed so much that he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. It might make for some interesting storytelling if Green Arrow and Black Canary’s newest and worst villain is the person who knows them best.

By Mandy Stegall

Repairing the Comic Book Stigma

Repairing the comic book stigma

Think about when you meet someone new and mention that you read comic books. Do you get the “oh, you’re one of them” looks? Personally, I get the look from a person that tells me they just diminished my IQ in their minds by about 30 points. To these people, comic books are those ten cent books where the heroes are from some distant planet and can never do wrong. And to them, the readers of comic books are either 10-year-old boys or grown men who work at the local Quik-E-Mart and spend half their salaries monthly just to keep up with their childhood pastime.

I walked into my first full-time job teaching English this year with a goal. In some way, I was going to teach a comic book in one of my classes. I had no idea which one, or how I was going to do it, but at least I had a goal. I didn’t shy away from my comic book love with my students—I even took a couple of duplicate issues I had and put them up on my “personality board” and shouted it from the rooftops that I read comics on a regular basis. But ultimately, my first attempts to connect with my students in such a way went sour and they didn’t take what I was trying to teach them (an excerpt from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics that is in our textbook) seriously. And really, it’s too bad because most of my students seem to gravitate toward anything that has pictures. I had a cool activity lined up for them in conjunction with the reading from the book, but we ended up not doing it because of the way they acted those first couple days.

It was my former student teaching advisor who made the comment about people diminishing your IQ once they find out you read comic books. And when she said that, it was the first time I was able to put a finger on that look that I get. And of course, the people who give you those looks like you have no life and totally and completely obsess over every little bit of the comic universe are the ones who have never picked up a comic book in their lives. See, the truth is that I used to be one of those people. I was all over the TV shows and movies, but I couldn’t see myself getting involved in comic books. And we all know how that turned out.

And now I’m trying my hardest show people that comic book fans are just as smart and astute as those who read the latest mystery novels. After all, aren’t most comic books mystery novels with pictures? My students are currently working on a mythology poster project. In the past, they could only choose from actual Greek/Roman/Norse/African/Egyptian mythological characters or legends like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. But I stepped it up for them. Now, they can also choose from “popular culture characters that have been in existence for at least 30 years who have an established mythology.” They caught on immediately and started choosing characters like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. And now, I’m excited to see what kind of information they come up with since they have to find two book sources in addition to Internet sources.

I think what I’m most concerned with is that people understand that comic writers and artists have to be some of the hardest workers in the entertainment industry. I have a great deal of respect for the work they do and the timely manner they do it in. And honestly, some of the stories I get from comic books are most interesting and intriguing than what I find in a traditional novel.

By Mandy Stegall