So we have a Wonder Woman. Adrianne Palicki (which is a last name sure to invite nerd-drooling innuendo for the foreseeable future) has been reportedly cast as the Amazonian princess in David Kelley’s adaptation of Wonder Woman set to air on NBC. Palicki stands at 5’11″ and has the build necessary to pull off the character believably though she’s going to have to spend some time with a dye pack to get her hair to the jet-black sheen we’re used to seeing with Wonder Woman. All that truly is in question right now is how well she will be able to portray the character. I do not have any real idea of how well she can play the part as I honestly haven’t seen her in anything live-action, my only experience with her in any form is from her voice work in bits on Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum. Apparently she was in an episode of Smallville once upon a time but nothing about that show really left much of an impression on me other than how badly I want to make out with Allison Mack, because let’s face it, that woman is amazing.
So now we have our Wonder Woman, and the vocal Wondy fans will likely spend the next few months complaining about it as I’ve learned that Wonder Woman fans are 90% psychotic. Their obsession with the minutia of her character is unparalleled and this is equally insane due to the fact that Wonder Woman has to be the least consistent character in the DC universe, paling only in comparison to Donna Troy who herself is part of the Wonder Woman continuity clusterfuck. I’m not saying I don’t like the character, as I’ve got a pretty much a full run of her issues from the moment George Perez took over following the first Crisis through Rucka’s run up through Simone’s and even currently through this current JMS debacle but I’ll be damned if I ever met a Wonder Woman fan who didn’t make me raise my eyebrows and inch for the door just ever so slightly.
Last night I was able to attend a signing/q&a session with prolific writer Greg Rucka at Houston bookstore Murder by the Book. If you live in the Houston area and are into any sort of crime fiction you would be a total idiot not to check out their store as it is just a fine establishment. I recommend it with every fiber of my being.
Anyhow, Mr. Rucka was appearing last night to discuss his latest novel, an entry into the Queen & Country series which he launched at Oni Press with a series of comics that evolved into a series of novels. It’s one of the few instances where a comic character gets a novel and it doesn’t seem trite. I see novels about Superman and while I understand the appeal, at the same time it feels odd. Like a turkey riding a horse. Terrible analogy, but it stays.
Mr. Rucka started off by giving an explanation of what the series was all about and a little bit about how he likes to work as a writer, which for me was basically like porn because as someone who’s desperately trying to find an ending to his novel Mr. Rucka’s explanations gave me a nudge in the right direction. Coming from someone who has been writing for the better part of two decades, even the simplest explanations of process can be illuminating.
The Q&A was fun and informative, with a healthy dose of questions posed about both his prose work as well as his dealings in the comic industry, which I found refreshing in their candor. Mr. Rucka obviously has no reason to hold back now that he’s almost exclusively writing novels or his own independent creator-owned books for Oni Press. He reiterated what a lot of people have been saying that so long as comic customers keep purchasing the event-driven books that the product will remain to continue in that vein.
I had the chance to chime in with some questions, mainly since he’s written so many characters of his own creation if there were any characters that he found more difficult to write than others, to which he replied that he didn’t like to write Spider-Man, mainly due to his consistently whiny nature, a problem that Rucka says most Marvel characters share. He went on to explain that he loves the DC characters because of their simplistic elegance, going on to echo my sentiments about Superman that his stories are necessary in order to provide a beacon in a darker world. His enthusiasm for the DC characters really showed through, which makes his departure from the upcoming Batwoman series so disheartening, although he did confide in me that he has seen some of JH Williams’ artwork for the series and that we will be blown away.
He signed a stack of my books, including a copy of his first issue on Detective which I also was able to get signed by Williams a few months back and a copy of the first trade of Gotham Central which has a signature from Michael Lark. Both of these are now lovingly displayed in my office.
I hope he comes back to town as he made a verbal agreement to go out for drinks with myself and a few of my cohorts who attended the event. Unfortunately the man had been up since three in the morning and wasn’t prepared for a night of attempting to drink with Texas folk.
According to DC’s THE SOURCE the previously announced Batwoman series that would have been written by Greg Rucka before his exodus from the company, will be moving forward with Detective Comics artist J.H. Williams III taking on the writing duties as well as doing the art for the book. This gives me a lot of hope for a decent book as I have a feeling that Williams will probably be working off notes left on Rucka’s drawing board when he was still planning to write the series.
This is good news as it proves that DC has enough faith in the character that she can sustain a book without it being part of an established series and also that she’s a strong enough entity that one writer can leave the book and the fans will still remain on board. They’re playing it safe by keeping the Eiser award nominated artist on board, but this is a step in the right direction after rumblings that the series would be put on the shelf without Rucka to steer the boat.
All of this ties into my general attitude toward mainline comic companies and their seemingly strict inability to get new characters to stick around in any real capacity of their own, instead giving up on them and relegating them to team books that have only a marginally higher readership than the new hero’s cancelled title (Blue Beetle anybody?). I figure with Batwoman, the hype she got even before she showed up as well as the fact that she has bat-family ties, makes her sort of bulletproof in the eyes of editorial, and so she’s safe by virtue of circumstance. I’ll take that victory in whatever way I can.
I think it’s common knowledge around these parts how much I love the Batwoman driven Detective Comics title. And while a great deal of that love comes from my unabashed love of J.H. Williams III’s wonderful artwork, just as much of it comes from writer Greg Rucka, who has turned a character who could have been a throwaway token lesbian into someone fully developed by subtle characterization and organic growth.
Now the news has broken out of Wondercon that Greg Rucka will be leaving the title and focusing on work outside of the comic industry. I’m not going to rant and rave about how disappointed I am, because as an artist I understand that if doesn’t want to work within someone else’s system, under someone else’s mandate, and would rather let his mind work freely, he should be allowed to do so and commended for having the strength to do it. The main crux of this little article is meant to illuminate what I believe to be a major problem with the DC system, namely, the manner in which their writers are promoted as an entity.
Look at the way Marvel handles their writers. Names like Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Slott, etc. are treated like they’re members of some holy pantheon. They put their writers up on a pedestal in such a way that even if we have never heard their names before, the marketing forces us to sit with mouths agape in awe. One only need look at the way Quesada pushed the rotating teams of writers on the Amazing Spider-Man title as an example of how Marvel sells the writer just as much as they do the book itself.
And DC does the same thing, to a point. But my main problem with DC is that at this moment, with Rucka exiting, it’s easy to see that DC doesn’t promote their talent roster the same way that Marvel does. I will be the first to admit that DC has just as many good writers as Marvel, if not more. The difference is the way in which they tier them. DC has Morrison and Johns at the top, with Stracynski joining them after getting little fanfare during his little run on Brave and The Bold. But where is the hype for people like Matt Sturges, who is knocking it out of the park with JSA All Stars? Where’s the love for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray? People will claim that these names don’t sell books, but that’s my entire point. Marvel has an entire marketing machine built around making their writers, ALL their writers, seem like the cream of the crop. You don’t think people would be consistently buying JSA All Stars if DC ran to Wizard every month telling people how important the work he’s doing there will be at some point? If they splattered editorials all over the internet proclaiming him to be the next Geoff Johns? You bet your ass!
I’m afraid that DC is going to rely on the same “established” writers they’ve had on their books for the last several years, like Winnick and now Robinson, who has fallen so far from his wonderful work on Starman to the point that I can barely read any of his work. JT Krul has been getting a lot of high profile gigs but they’re doing nothing to inspire consumer confidence in him as a writer. The same goes for all the new blood that seems to be working their way into the system. In this regard, DC really needs to take a page out of Marvel’s handbook and start working some marketing mojo.
That is all.
Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.
The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99
And here come the reviews:
AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32
Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.
BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.
The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.
It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E
DETECTIVE COMICS # 861
Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.
While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.
RED HULK # 1
A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41
I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.
Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.
ROBOCOP # 1
I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1
I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.
WONDER WOMAN # 40
Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.
And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?