Category Archives: Life in the Gutter

Where do I start? By Mandy Stegall

For some reason, I just visited the Raging Bullets website for only the second time since I returned from the University of Missouri two weeks ago.  It’s been that kind of month, people.  But, I had an awesome time working as a reporter for a couple weeks in Columbia, Missouri and the surrounding areas.

Having just checked out the site, I see that Sean and Jim are having a discussion on the show about pull lists and it got me thinking about how I decide what’s on mine.  Ultimately, it comes down to three criteria.

1) Character

Of course, I want to read my favorite characters, so all the Super-books are a must.  These will always be on my pull list, no matter what’s happening in them right now. Take Action Comics, for example.  I’m still not completely sold on the whole Lex Luthor storyline, but I know that somehow it’s all going to tie back to Superman.  And now that there’s going to be a Jimmy Olsen co-feature, I have more of a reason to stick with it.

I went crazy a while back and started getting all of the Bat-books, but recently I’ve pulled back on them.  I dropped Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens, even though they were enjoyable enough.  But ultimately, I find that books like Batgirl and Red Robin along with the main Batman title are giving me enough of the family to get me by.

And sometimes, I pick up a book because I want to know more about the character, which is exactly what happened with Green Lantern.  Yeah, I know it had to do with Blackest Night, but I definitely understood what was going on in that book better because I was reading the main title and had an understanding of the world he lives in.

Anything with the Question/Renee Montoya character is an automatic for me.  Her co-feature in Detective Comics was an added bonus to Batwoman.  And, I’m beginning to like the Atom/Ray Palmer character more and more as well.  I know I’m forgetting some.


Geoff Johns, Gail Simone, James Robinson, and Greg Rucka are just four writers who could attach their names to the most obscure character in the DCU and have me eating out of their hands.  They all have a track record of writing stories that keep me interested and even make me question everything that came before it.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of these writers apologize for creating a story arc that angered fans, and that makes me respect them even more.  Admittedly, I’m probably one of a handful of fans that enjoyed Robinson’s Cry for Justice, but I’ve never heard him apologize for writing it (though he may have apologized for angering fans) and that’s what I love.  Robinson will also be the guy who wrote Superman for a year without actually writing the title character, but he made me care for the characters in the book anyway.

I try to make it a habit not to complain about the writing, but do everything I can to praise it.  And the best way I know to praise an author’s work is to continue buying it and supporting it.


That’s right, curiosity.  I’m curious.  What’s the real story on Booster Gold?  Let me pick up a few issues and find out.  What’s the deal with this new book called Secret Six that everyone’s raving about? (Okay, I admit that I didn’t read it right away, even though Gail Simone writes it.  I’m a horrible person, I know.)  I’ll pick up a few back issues and see why everyone’s so giddy.  Vigilante? R.E.B.E.L.S.?

I didn’t stick with all those books.  Vigilante didn’t keep my attention, and Brainiac 2 in R.E.B.E.L.S. really got on my nerves.  Other people had plenty of good things to say about those books; they just didn’t work for me.

Picking a pull list is tough. I’ve been constant the last few months, but I know that I’m going to have to consider some changes in the coming months.  Batman, Inc., Superboy, and Batwoman are all coming down the pipeline in the near future, and my budget is about maxed out, so I know  I’ll have to think about dropping some books.  It won’t be fun, especially since I’m enjoying so much of what I’m reading right now.

LITG: Just when I was struggling with a topic…

…the DC blog “The Source” gave me a good few reasons to be excited.

Before we get started, a couple things:

  • The information I’m going to talk about literally came out less than an hour before I typed this.  Now, it could be old news by the time you actually see it on the website, but I wanted to make sure to cover my bases.
  • I’m leaving on Sunday for the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia for two weeks, which means that I won’t be back until the end of the month.  I’ve already scoped out that there’s an LCS in Columbia, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll have time to read anything, let alone write about it.  From what I’ve heard, I’m going to be plenty doing the student/reporter thing for the next two weeks.

Okay, here’s your last warning.  New stuff coming…

Superman #701 came out today, and while I haven’t read the whole book yet (my shipment from DCB doesn’t get here until Thursdays), I did read the preview that’s posted all over the Internet right now.


I love it, and if this is the kind of story JMS is going to be telling, then I’m going to be a very happy Superman camper for the foreseeable future.  Can he fly? Yes.  Does he want to? No.   And really, that’s pretty cool.

It makes total sense to me that after a year off Earth, Superman would feel distanced from humanity and feel it necessary to really get in touch with it again.  New Krypton gave him a chance to experience his Kryptonian heritage and know more about where he came from, but it also put him at odds with Earth and its people on numerous occasions.  I think that, more than anything, the New Krypton storyline and everything that came along with it solidified what I think Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent knew all along:  He might be from Krypton, but Earth is his home.

And the new artist for J.T. Krul’s Teen Titans team is…

Nicola Scott, baby.

That cover for #88, the one that opens Krul’s run with the Titans?  Amazing.  I’m excited for this, and not just because of the creative team.  If the team members on the cover are any indication, this is going to signal the return of the more “classic” team: Superboy, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Raven, Kid Flash, and…Ravager.  Okay, so I’m curious how she makes her way back into the fold and what happens to other current Titans, like Static, Aqua Girl, Bombshell.  It sounds like Blue Beetle is off with the Generation Lost crew.  I suppose we have a few months to find out what becomes of them.

The blog post on The Source had some words from Krul about Scott being added to the team.  We all know she’s awesome, so I’ll save you the whole paragraph.  It’s these couple of lines that really got me excited, though.

“Oh, and wait until you see her take on Damian. That’s right, I said         it. What would Teen Titans be without a Robin.”

Lord help us, Damian is going to be a Teen Titan.  Krul’s right, of course.  What would the Teen Titans be without a Robin?  What’s going to be fun is seeing how this Robin differs from the other Robins that have been on the team.  I have no doubt that the other members are going to be in need of some serious therapy in the near future.

This week, the gals rule the conversation

I know everyone can guess at least one female character I’m going to discuss this week.  And I promise, we’ll get to that.  But for now, excuse me while I take a short break to do the Dance of Joy.

Still here?  Good.  I guess I should probably explain that, huh?

I have to confess that Superman isn’t exactly my favorite character.  It’s Lois Lane.

I had ambitions of being a reporter once.  (Okay, so maybe I still think about it sometimes.)  It was my thing in college.  I learned about journalism terms like writing leads (and burying them), the inverted pyramid, and the importance of sources.  Sometimes I even slip into reporter mode when I’m writing this blog.

Every so often, we hear about reporters “protecting their sources.”  It seems to me the ultimate protection of a source–and no, I don’t care that it’s only a comic book–is Lois Lane’s knowledge that Clark Kent is Superman.  Talk about sitting on the story of a century!

But hey, I could go on forever about the character development of Lois Lane.  The one piece of information that has bugged me over the last couple of months though, is when Paul Cornell announced that Lois would be featured in his Action Comics run as Lex Luthor’s girlfriend.


Continue reading This week, the gals rule the conversation

Life in the Gutter – Back from the Depths

I know, I know.  It’s been late April since I posted anything on the website.  For that, my deepest apologies.  The explanation is a long, long story but involves hospitals, state-mandated Response to Intervention training for school, a late out for our school, and a killer time getting the Senior Issue of our school newspaper to printer before the seniors actually left school.  All in all, it’s been a crazy couple of months.

I quickly came to the realization that it would be impossible for me to completely recap everything that has happened in the last couple months comic-wise.  But, here I am trying to get caught up on Raging Bullets episodes and just finally getting around to listening to 207 on the Smallville season finale, and I’m internally cracking up at all the things that have come to light since the episode aired.

Continue reading Life in the Gutter – Back from the Depths

Final C2E2 thoughts and fun comics since then

Given the choice between attending a con in Rosemont or downtown Chicago, I choose downtown.  Outside the con itself, it was great to be in the heart of the city (which I love) and experience different opportunities after the show floor closed.  I also loved how calm the show felt considering it was the first year.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly expected to hear of more problems than I did.  Nothing against the people from Reed, but it was the first year for the show.  I wouldn’t have counted it against them, but instead they deserve many, many kudos for putting together a great show.  I have no doubt it will only get better.

I need to apologize to people who might have heard on episode 203 that I took pictures and video during some of the panels at the show.  I came home from Chicago with a virus on my computer and just got it back a couple days ago.  They’re coming soon.  I promise.

Recent comics

Booster Gold #31 was yet another issue of this book that made me happy that I decided to pick up the book about six months ago.  I’ve said before that I haven’t always been a fan of Booster (my first introduction to him was in 52), but I have really been enjoying his turn as a guardian of the time stream.  And let’s not forget the greatness that is his supporting cast.  He’s the least informed of the whole cast, and that requires a great deal of trust on his part.

I’m beyond excited to see how the Time Masters are going to factor into the Return of Bruce Wayne mini that’s coming up next month.  Sure, I think we can all make a logical leap and figure it out, but I have come to love the way they are factoring in to the history of the DCU.

Action Comics #888’s last page (of the main feature) was killer for me.  That image of Chris Kent finally feeling the Nightwing entity and breaking out of that pseudo-Phantom Zone-thingy to help Thara is absolutely haunting.  I honestly fear for the lives of Chris and Thara past War of the Supermen.  Hopefully, they will get the opportunity to serve as supporting characters in one of the Superman books in some capacity, especially now that they’re finally being fleshed out a good deal.

It’s hard to determine where they would be a good fit at this point, especially since we don’t know exactly what the status quo will be at the end of May in the Superman books.  Do they both survive?  Does only one survive?  Do they both die?  The book they fit in depends on the outcome.  But my vote is that they survive and the writers find a good storyline for Superman, Zod, and a grown up Chris Kent, mostly because I’m sure Zod is going to take exception to Chris wearing the crest of the House of El.

Quick words

Secret Six–one word: guh.

Batgirl– Quite possibly my favorite Bat-book right now.  My love for Stephanie Brown right now is great, mostly because of the way her maturation is being handled.

Supergirl– Time travel confuses me, but I’m determined to figure out the whole Brainiac 5/Supergirl thing.  But I’m still Super-excited (pun is totally intended) for May and the big War.

Justice League of America– Right now I have a great deal of confidence in James Robinson to make the JLA great.  To me, he’s taking characters we never would have thought of putting together and making us say, “why didn’t I think of that?”  And I know it’s very shallow of me, but I like the Mikaal Tomas Starman much better since he sprang for a haircut.

That’s all for now, but hopefully I’ll have some pictures and/or video from C2E2 this week, as long as more thoughts on the recent releases.

LITG: Update from C2E2

Hey, all.  We’re at the end of the second day of C2E2 in Chicago, and so far the show has been great.  Personally, this is only the second con I’ve ever attended, the Wizard show last August in Chicago being the first.

I’ve been trying desperately not to act like a total fan girl this weekend.  Maybe I should just let it happen, but I want to be respectful to these people.  I won’t follow my favorite writer or artist into the restroom to get an autograph, and I certainly won’t hassle them with questions about my favorite characters as they try to grab a bite to eat at the pretzel stand.  Am I freaking out internally that I’m in the same room with some of my favorite people in comics?  Oh, definitely.

This weekend has also given me the chance to finally meet Sean and Jim in person.  I also met Ian from the Comic Timing podcast today.  I find it slightly hilarious (don’t ask why–I don’t know that I can explain it) that we all recognize each other by our voices.  I had absolutely no idea who this dude was until he started talking.  Then, it was “Hey, Ian.”

If you want to know what I thought about the Brightest Day panel, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.  But until then, here’s some of my highlights from the day, some of which I’m still trying to digest.

  • Franco (of Tiny Titans) colored a Superman in crayon for me today.  And then I found a Superman carrying Lois that he did that I had to have, so now I have some cool Superman art in crayon.  I honestly have no idea why that excites me so much, but it does.  I think they’re going to be framed and put in my classroom.
  • I told Gail Simone’s husband that I didn’t like him…many times.  I have no reason for doing this, honestly.  I really should be more careful and know who people are before I tell them I don’t like them.  (In my defense though, I think it was pretty clear that we were joking.)
  • I had a huge moment today when Jamal Igle told me he knew me through the podcast and my column.  Mr. Igle, I have thoroughly enjoyed your Supergirl and I wish you would stay on that book forever.  Can I request that?  You and Sterling Gates on Supergirl forever and ever?
  • Oh, and there might be the small, minor detail of getting Geoff Johns to autograph Flash #1 and Brightest Day #0 as well.

I’m sure I’ll have much more to talk about in the coming days.  But let me just pimp out my new campaign one more time:


That is all.

On writers moving on

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Within the last month or so, DC has announced that writers on three major books are leaving said book. In one case, the writer left DC altogether. From a fan’s perspective, it might be easy to conclude that things will go downhill from here on out, or that now is a good time to either drop or pick up the book, depending on how you felt about the writer’s run on the book.

Personally, I wish these writers all the best of luck with their upcoming projects.  And I have some great comic book memories of their time on their respective books.

Gail Simone: Wonder Woman

For the longest time, I just didn’t get Wonder Woman.  I had nothing against her as a character; I simply just didn’t feel like I understood her.  Gail Simone’s run changed all that for me.  Gail’s Diana is the definitive version for me right now (and I’ve gone back and read some of the earlier stuff, too).  Maybe I’m a little biased because she’s the first long-term writer of the character that I have experience reading, but oh well.  Gail’s interpretation of Diana has me genuinely loving this character right now and really getting a strong idea of who she is as a person.

And who is Diana as a person?  One of the things I love is that I feel Gail has given her a vulnerability that makes her more accessible.  My idea of Wonder Woman in the past was always that she was this crazy Amazon princess woman who knew how to fight extremely well.  But through all of the adventures Gail has taken Diana on througout her run on the series, I feel like the character is more fleshed out than she was even when the series was relaunched.  Sure, Diana knows how to handle angry gods, but how does she handle a monster like Genocide?  Or even the prospect of love, marriage, and possibly children?

Continue reading On writers moving on

LITG: Is it just me…

…or did Justice Society of America #37 venture into the world of the once talked about Justice League movie “Supermax”?  To be honest, I wasn’t excited about this story arc.  In fact, I was so unexcited that I had to mentally remind myself about the last issue when I cracked this one open.

But, the most interesting part of the issue comes along when Mr. Terrific sneaks out of his “cell” and meets up with the other captured heroes, including Superman, Batman, Blue Beetle, and Green Arrow.  Hearing Bruce talk about being the next one of them set to be executed made this story sound a little more real.  It was also very weird to see Supes sporting an eye patch.

In case anyone isn’t familiar, “SuperMax” was one of the many Justice League movie scripts that has been floating around the last five years or so.  The set-up was the Green Arrow and other members of the Justice League have been captured and must find their way out of a Super-Maximum security facility.  Sound familiar?  Change a few details and it looks like “SuperMax” has been repackaged as a comic book story instead of a movie screenplay.  Who knows?  In this new age of comic books finding their way onto the big screen, this might be what this story needs to finally find it’s way into being a movie worth making.

By the way, now that I’m able to post my column on the website instead of sending it to Norge, I’m going to start doing shorter snippets like this (hopefully).  This idea from from JSA came along today and had already formed in my head, so I figured I would post it now instead of waiting until I’ve had a chance to re-read all the other books I received this week.  So, that’s all for now, but more will be coming shortly.

Life in the Gutter: Changing it up!

By Mandy Stegall

As promised, I’m not making anyone wait another month for a column.  Two weeks is much more manageable, I think.

I hate to say it, but I’m kind of suffering from Batman burn-out right now.  I was faced with a budget issue recently to make room for the new Flash series coming out next month in addition to the Zatanna ongoing that I would like to try, so I had to think long and hard about a couple books that I’m just not enjoying as much right now.  Those books happened to be Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens.  It was a tough choice to make, but when it comes down to it, those are the two books that I’m enjoying the least right now. 

And it’s not like I don’t have countless other ways to get a Batman fix.  I love Batman and Robin, and Red Robin and Batgirl are probably two of my favorite titles right now.  In fact, I absolutely loved the crossover with those two titles earlier in the month.  It was so nice to see Tim and Stephanie readjusting to their roles in Gotham as well as how they relate to each other, both personally and professionally.  I can see them being friends, at the very least, and maybe re-examining their romance down the road.  For the time being though, I think Tim’s headed toward a relationship with Tam Fox.

Continue reading Life in the Gutter: Changing it up!

LITG: Cry for Justice, Nemesis: The Imposters, JSA All Stars, Adventure Comics

Life in the Gutter by Mandy Stegall

Yep, I’m still alive. Trust me, it was never my intention to stay away this long.  I’ll spare you the list of reasons, though.  It’s long and boring and involves pain killers, doctor visits, and fear of broken bones in my leg.

Gearing up for C2E2 in the next month or so, I’m going to attempt to be better at updating.  I don’t have the specifics down quite yet, but I AM going to be in Chicago for the blessed event, and I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting many of you.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the main event: the comics.

Justice League: Cry for Justice

I’m really torn on my feelings about this series.  First off, let me say that I think there were too many people involved.  I don’t think Congorilla and Mikaal really contributed to the story enough to justify their presence, and I felt like they were just…there.  I can’t say that I saw their presence as anything more than the blue guy making friends with the man trapped in the gorilla’s body.

Continue reading LITG: Cry for Justice, Nemesis: The Imposters, JSA All Stars, Adventure Comics