Yeah, it's a kids book. Usually this kind of stuff Allison handles, and I get the scary mature readers only comics. But when this comic dropped into my lap, it was just too much fun to resist. Batman: Li'l Gotham is great!
Written by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, with moody but kid-friendly cartoonish art by Nguyen, Batman: Li'l Gotham is the perfect counterpoint and companion to DC's other kids favorite Superman Family Adventures by Franco and Art Baltazar (who also brought us Tiny Titans). Nguyen and Fridolfs brings us two relatively in-continuity tales of autumn holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
There is lots of fun stuff here for both adults and kids of all ages. Batman teaches Damian about Halloween and the Penguin attacks the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's almost a wonderful throwback to the good old days when heroes didn't have to die and world was always in peril - just fun adventure.
And I loved the Halloween full page with the Golden and Silver Age Flashes holding hands, Darkseid chilling with a Slurpee, and Hush and a mummy checking each other out. Didn't I tell you this was fun?
Batman: Li'l Gotham #1 is on sale this week at All Things Fun!, make sure you get down there and pick up your copy today. Originally only available digital, here's your chance to have a copy of your very own, to hold in your hands, and share with your family.
Now most of you are aware of Earth 2 #2 because it features the big reveal of the Alan Scott of Earth 2, soon to be that alternate world's Green Lantern, as a gay and out character. But there are many other reasons you should be picking up this particular comic book.
See the arrival of Michael Holt, Mister Terrific, on Earth 2, as well as cameo appearances by a few surprise guests that will whet your appetites for future issues of this series. But the big draw in this issue by writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott is the new origin of young Jay Garrick as the Flash of Earth 2!
If you're not already reading the hottest comic of the week, you need to pick up Earth 2 #2 for new adventures of new takes on the beloved Golden Age superheroes of the Justice Society - Enter the New 52 era!
By Glenn Walker
"It's like déjà vu all over again." This amusing Yogi Berra quote approximates one of my biggest problems with DC Comics' New 52. The idea of the restart, the blank slate for some of these characters bothers me quite a bit.
One of the reasons is I don't like origin stories. No, scratch that, I do like origin stories, I just don't like them when they're not needed, or when they are told over and over again. I hate them in superhero movies. It seems like when a hero gets a movie the origin has to be done, whether we like it or not. Just think, next year we'll have Spider-Man's origin told in the movie theater twice in less than ten years.
Why can't they just tell a good story? Just do that, and we as viewers will accept that the hero is who he is and can do what he does. That's how they did it back in the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and especially in the old movie serials. Heck, back in the Bronze Age, in the late 1970s, DC Comics themselves did it one better. Every story opened with an introductory paragraph that told you who the hero was, where he came from, and what he could do.
Here's an example: Rocketed as a baby from the exploding planet Krypton, Kal-El grew to manhood on Earth - whose yellow sun and lighter gravity gave him fantastic super-powers! In the city of Metropolis, he poses as mild-mannered TV newsman Clark Kent - but battles evil all over the Earth - and beyond - as… Superman!
DC should probably implement that again; as a matter of fact, I think most superhero comics should. If you can't tell me the origin in one paragraph, it might just be too complex. Yes, I'm looking at you, Miles Morales.
The starting from scratch idea has actually ruined a few of the New 52 for me. Case in point - The Flash #1. It's a great comic, good story, great new costume, and a terrific new foe in the style of the Silver Age rogues. My problem is that they have turned back the clock. Barry Allen is no longer married to Iris, and on page one, is on a pseudo date with Patty (our Bronze Age preemptive Ms. Flash) Spivot. This just isn't right.
Even as a kid (not yet a married adult, so screw your relation theories), I preferred loving married Iris Allen over mean single Iris West. Barry and Iris had a love that spanned millennia and the multiverse, and survived both their however-temporary deaths. They are soul mates, just as much as Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman, and they belong together.
I love Barry Allen, and the Silver Age Flash is one of my all-time favorite characters, but do you know when I didn't like him? After Iris' death, when he was dating Fiona Webb and flirting with Zatanna, that's when he was a jerk. I didn't want to read about him. Notably I kept reading even when he was a widowed angeldust addict, but not as a jerk.
Speaking of jerks, we are also back to square one with Superman. The Clark/Lois/Superman triangle is back. I thought we were done with this kind of deceit. If Superman was as true blue as he's always pretended to be, this cruelty would have ended decades earlier than it did. I'm telling you, if Lois shot Clark to death with kryptonite bullets after finding out he'd been yanking her chain with the whole double identity thing for so long – even Judge Judy would acquit her. I don't want to go back to those dark days, but I think I've written enough about that already in these blogs.
Getting back on track, when Superman was rebooted in 1986, the one thing that turned me off was that everything was erased, it was a blank slate. While that was not a bad thing in itself, I then had to read certain stories over again as they were retold. I remember being bored to tears by all the Cadmus Project stories as I had already read them all before, back when they were called the DNA Project as written by Jack Kirby.
Dan Jurgens is a great comic book writer – when he's not retelling Kirby Superman stories over and over again. I certainly hope that won't be the case with Grant Morrison's new Superman. Unfortunately for me, I think we will be getting the Cadmus/DNA Project stories again anyway in the new Superboy and Teen Titans. I certainly hope not. As much as I liked Morrison's take on the early Superman days in Action Comics, I hope we won't be getting too many repeats. It's dangerous territory, as his origin has been retold at least three times in the past decade, and will also appear again in the Man of Steel film – not to mention almost fifty years of Superboy stories – as if we could all forget Superman's origin…
The best #1 issue of DC's New 52, in my opinion, is Aquaman #1. You know why I think a big part of that is? Because the story accepts what has gone before (and Aquaman's marriage to Mera is still intact, unlike other DC Comics marriages) and works with it. Why couldn't all the DC titles have done that? Writer Geoff Johns has fun with Aquaman's history and perception, and fun is something lacking in many of the New 52 as well.
The storytellers of the DC Universe should be guided by the work of Grant Morrison's Batman, Steve Englehart's Justice League of America and Detective Comics, and James Robinson's Starman. Just write good stories – and assume everything that came before did happen, but just don't reference it unless it's important to the story you're telling. It's pick and choose continuity, but it's continuity that works.
Keep it simple, keep it entertaining, and just tell good stories – and not re-tell them. Please.
By Glenn Walker
Hopefully y'all have been following the All Things Fun! Comic Vidcast broadcast live every Wednesday, and if not, get yourself over to its special webpage and enjoy. As I said, it's live every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM sharp Eastern Standard Time, and available for viewing, as are all the episodes, throughout the week afterwards.
I, along with co-hosts Allison Eckel and Ed Evans, discuss the new comics that come out that day for the week. We like to think we offer our own unique and informative view of the comics world and what's going on within it and around it.
Although, sometimes fifteen to twenty minutes just isn't enough to explain some of the references made during the vidcast, and it certainly isn't anywhere near enough time to justify the vast storehouse of useless comics knowledge spilling out of my head. We've had to do this once before, and hopefully this second edition of Show Notes might help alleviate the pressure on my brain.
Who's Afraid of the Calendar Man?
Stupid name? Maybe, but this is one scary Arkham Asylum baddie in my opinion, which made Allison guffaw on camera. The Joker? Two-Face? The Mad Hatter? Zsasz? Amygdala? Okay, yeah, maybe one or two of those guys are scarier, but I think that the Calendar Man should be right up there with them.
Julian Gregory Day is old school, as he was created by Bill Finger. He was a typical baddie from the old days as he had a catastrophic obsession on which all of his crimes were based. In Day's case, it was the calendar, and holidays. Whereas other Bat-villains have just one modus operandi, the Calendar Man could be a couple dozen different villains, based on any number of different holidays, days of the week, seasons, even made-up Hallmark days. He's like a psychotic Multiplex, each with a separate personality and MO.
Then there's also his chilling appearances in The Long Halloween and its sequel Dark Victory, playing a Hannibal Lector-esque resource to Batman's Clarice Starling. Creepy, and much like Silence of the Lambs, you are left fearing what may happen if he gets out himself. Paper cape or not, the Calendar Man is one very bad dude. Just my opinion, folks, but remember, there are no bad characters, just bad writers.
Ms. Flash and the 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular
Okay, back in the days when comics cost around four bits, DC also put out super-sized books that featured eighty pages for one whole dollar, the Dollar Comics. Trust the old man here, that was a lot of money at the time, and was a serious output for one comic book. One such book, a one-shot, was 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular (1977). And spectacular it was, as it featured stories of Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Aquaman, and the Flash, each unique compared to the typical stories for those heroes in their regular titles.
The Atom returned to his Silver Age roots and visited Alexander Graham Bell via the Time Pool. Green Lantern, who rarely appeared solo without Green Arrow or in space, did both in his tale here. Batman became the first of the super-heroes to face Kobra, and even vowed at the end that the Justice League would bring him down. Aquaman fought the fire-based one-off villain Sunburst in the desert, and won, baby, water be damned. And the Flash appeared in a retro science tale reminiscent of his Silver Age, packed to the rim with Flash Facts.
It's that last one that concerns us. Patty Spivot, a character who barely appeared in the background of Flash stories at that time, was Barry Allen's lab assistant. She recently, much to this old reader's delight, appeared in Geoff Johns' new Flash series in much the same capacity. She also, in the Flashpoint universe, is the new Hot Pursuit. In the 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular, a one in a million shot in the dark brings struck brings a flash of lightning to Patty while standing in front of a cabinet of chemicals. Sound familiar? Yep, you bet, she gets super-speed.
Making up a red and yellow lightning bolted costume and calling herself, with very seventies flair, Ms. Flash, Patty starts fighting crime in Central City. Unfortunately disaster strikes whenever she uses her powers. Seems different chemicals in the cabinet formed a different combination of powers, and if she doesn't stop, the city will be destroyed. So, Barry keeps it from happening, revealing that his super-quick mind imagined what might happen in seconds, and he rescued her from the accident. No more Ms. Flash. And no one remembers her but me. And Barry Allen, but Barry remembers everything.
Tony Gordon and the Sino-Supermen
Okay, I have no idea who this recent James Gordon, Jr., guy is who claims to be the Commissioner's second son in the recent Detective Comics (like #875), but I do know of Batgirl's older brother. Keep in mind, I'm old and stubborn, and Junior might be post-Crisis and Tony might be pre-Crisis, but in my mind, Tony is much more interesting.
Barbara Gordon's big brother was always something of an enigma. Rumor had it he had had words with Dad and run away from home, or that he was travelling the world. He was always off-panel. Babs missed him, the Commish missed him, but we never actually saw him. Then came the Sino-Superman. Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least it's not as ethnically insulting as Egg Fu or I Ching, right? (oh no, that'll be another Show Notes column, won't it?)
Then, in the late 1970s, Batgirl received word that not only was her brother missing, but that he might have in fact been a spy and might have been kidnapped by the Communist Chinese government. So the dynamic daredoll (not mine, that's what they actually called Batgirl back then) packed up and went to China to find and rescue her brother, and ran afoul of the Sino-Supermen.
It seems that the Chinese did not believe in fate or destiny or accidents. They believed that America's super-heroes had been created in a lab by our government, and so they had done the same thing. They cooked up their own superheroes in the lab -- with one problem: Once they used their powers, they blowed up real good, just like Penguin's goons in the 1966 Batman movie.
So, over the course of several stories, and after wading through these exploding Sino-Supermen, wearing bad Don Heck mock-ups of the original costumes of Superman, Green Lantern, Firestorm, -- Batgirl rescued her brother. Tony Gordon returned to the DCU just in time to vanish into comic book limbo, where only old folks like me remember him.
That's all for this time. I'm sure there will have to be more explanations of obscure and arcane info that likes to stick in my twisted mind. Maybe next time I'll teach y'all how to pronounce all the 'O' villains in the Justice League's rogues gallery... Until then, tune in Wednesday to the next All Things Fun! Comic Vidcast.
By Allison Eckel
Today on the All Things Fun new comics vidcast we announced our first-ever contest. In honor of the reboot of Young Justice -- appearing as a cartoon series on Cartoon Network as well as a comic launching today -- we are wondering: What happened to the character known as Secret? She was a key member of Peter David's comic series in 1998 - 2003, but she seems to be missing from the reboot (at least, so far).
So, tell us what the comics say happened to her. Post your answer as a comment to this post. The first commenter who is correct will win a poster! (shown below: DC's promo poster for their new $2.99 monthly issue pricing.)
While you're at it, share your opinions of the Young Justice reboot. I just finished reading issue #0, which picks up where the cartoon pilot leaves off. Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad have rescued Superman's teen-aged clone from a secret Cadmus lab and think they could do well as a crime-fighting team. First, Batman wants three days to decide whether this is a good idea. Issue #0 follows Kid Flash and "Superboy" through that waiting period (and action sequences ensue).
Written by Kevin Hopps, the comic is fast-paced and fun. I already know that I like the characters; now I am looking forward to following their younger selves once again. Plus the all-new take on Aqualad is fresh and exciting.
I will admit that I am being a little stodgy in my expectations. See, I'm not a kid who is new to this material. So, when I see Robin in pants and a black and yellow cape playing the role of techno-whiz, I assume it's Tim Drake. Nope, this Robin is Dick Grayson, a child of the circus who did not grow up with computers. My reading of Dick-as-Robin is that he is great in combat and a master team strategist, but not a master detective or gadgeteer. Those traits belong to Tim-as-Robin (who had his turn on screen in the Teen Titans cartoon).
Another gaffe is with the Flashes. Kid Flash looks and talks like young Wally from early Teen Titans days, with a costume to match. So, I was completely thrown when Flash shows up in issue #0 wearing grown-up Wally's Flash costume instead of Barry's. A straight lightning strike across the midriff (instead of one pointed to his groin) and eye holes showing his baby blues (instead of solid white eyes) are two minor details that would have gone a long way towards credibility for this comic. Okay, I understand that the new Young Justice series is out of continuity (Wonder Woman in the cartoon is sporting her classic swimsuit-style get-up), but costume branding is a big deal. I am certain that the brand management department at DC would have a problem with everyone mixing the flash costumes willy-nilly. Especially with a big Flash event about to start.
I have come to accept generational mixing in new teen-centered projects at DC. That Teen Titans cartoon may have been my first exposure to it. Tim-as-Robin served on a team with Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy, all of whom should have been considerably older. They are all contemporaries of Dick-as-Robin, which left me wondering why they didn't just use him in the show instead. Romantic tension between Tim and Koriand'r seems a little creepy to someone who knows about her relationship with Dick. Still, in the context of the cartoon, it worked.
The generational mixing of the Young Justice reboot -- Dick and Wally are the same age as Conner/Superboy, Miss Martian, and eventually Arrowette -- would be fine if it stayed on the screen. Since DC is putting it into print as well, I expected it to, well, make sense in the DCU. Perhaps the gaffe over the Flash costume was a one-time thing and I should just get over it.
What do you all think?