August 31, 2009
So, the Internet is abuzz with Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics.
There seems to be a lot of freaking out along the lines of “OMG Disney will turn Marvel into kid stuff!” There’s also a lot of people having fun with mash-ups, as seen on #disneymarvel.
A little perspective, though:
DC Comics has been owned by Warner Bros. (or rather its parent company, currently Time Warner) since the 1970s. From what I’ve heard, DC is more limited by merchandising at this point than by its corporate parent. Don’t change Superman into someone you can’t put on a kids’ beach towel.
Admittedly, Warner Bros. is less of a top-down hierarchy. When describing the fight to find Babylon 5 a new home when PTEN collapsed, JMS described Warner Bros. as “a series of competing and structurally independent fiefdoms.” (WB wouldn’t take Babylon 5 because it was a PTEN show.
Of course, this brings to mind images of Bugs Bunny-as-Superman vs. Mickey Mouse-as-Wolverine. Say, didn’t Duck Dodgers actually get a Green Lantern ring in one comic?
Disney isn’t just Disney. It’s also ESPN, ABC, Miramax, and Touchstone. It’s not just Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana, it’s also Kill Bill, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. And while Disney has been known for strict corporate control, they managed not to break Pixar.
It may be that my lack of concern for Marvel’s comic books has to do with the fact that I’m not much of a Marvel reader. But I have seen a lot of their movies, and I do see a major potential pitfall there.
The big advantage Marvel has had over DC in terms of movie development is that until recently, they could shop around to different studios. So they could have X-Men in development at Fox, Spider-Man at Sony, and Hulk at Universal, while DC was stuck with Warner Bros. — a company that exudes caution in every move and seemed to want to make only one movie at a time.
Now Marvel’s tied to a single studio, just like DC, except for projects already in development like the current Spider-Man series and the X-Men spinoffs.
My main concern on reading the news was actually what might happen with BOOM! Studios’ Pixar and Muppet comics. Why would Disney want to keep hiring out to a third party when they own a comics company? BOOM! made a big splash last year with their Jim Henson and Disney deals, particularly Farscape, The Muppet Show and The Incredibles…and then Henson took the rest of their properties to Archaia, and now Disney’s buying Marvel.
The short term answer, according to this list at CBR, is that “Existing licensing and distribution deals should remain where they are.” So BOOM! gets to keep producing The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and so forth. When that contract is up, who knows? Maybe it’ll come down to whether Disney likes what they’ve been doing. Or maybe it’ll come down to whether someone in management wants to save a few bucks by staying inside the company.
Presumably the same would be true of the characters at Universal Studios theme parks: they’d stay in place until the contract runs out.
Update: Further analysis and discussion at Comics Worth Reading, The Beat, Robot 6, Comics Should Be Good, and The Weekly Crisis. And it looks like Bleeding Cool is melting down (bleeding out?) under the strain of the discussion.
August 30, 2009
August 29, 2009
Between Ethan Van Sciver’s presence and the fact that Flash: Rebirth #4 had just been released two days earlier, there was a lot of Flash talk at Friday’s DC Nation panel at Fan Expo.
Newsarama’s article has a lot of Flash coverage, including this interesting statement by Flash: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver:
I’m having a great time. It’s the book I pestered [Dan Didio] for over three years. I love Barry Allen. I love the Flash. The Flash is probably my favorite superhero. Barry has been gone 25 years and I though that was a pretty fair homage to pay for Crisis, but it was time to bring him back. When Geoff and I finally convinced Dan to let us do it, we built a huge gigantic story that really needed every single Flash, even some that had been missing, in order for it to work.
Flash Rebirth is Part 1 of that. It’s assembling all the pieces, putting them back together where we needed them to be, and then explain one little segment of what the speed force is. Again, Geoff is only giving you a taste of what it is. It’s so much more broad. Professor Zoom ties into it big time and it’s going to lead to a long, fruitful, and very successful ongoing series after this.
He added that Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle “has a great scene” in issue #5, and Dan Didio remarked that DC will be “exploring more about” Liberty Belle and Hourman. “They could be one of the more fun DC couples coming out right now.”
CBR’s coverage includes some remarks that Ethan Van Sciver made about Kid Flash:
“How great is it to see Bart Allen again? I started on Impulse…I fed my family drawing Bart Allen as a young husband,” Sciver recalled “the look on Bart’s face in issue #4 was the look on my face when I drew it.”
Joey Cavalieri joked that, as far as Wally West’s role in the rest of the series, we should “See Blackest Night.” Nice.
Didio went on to state that, unlike with Green Lantern, “Wally was the perfect replacement. Everybody had moved on so now it’s not a story about somebody who has to fix something broken in his absence, but somebody who is coming back to see if he was relevant still. What I’m talking about actually plays into what the story is about.”
There’s also apparently a “nasty trick” coming up, regarding which EVS said, “Keep reading, it’ll all make sense.” I’m beginning to wonder whether Cavalieri’s joke about Wally may have been hiding the truth in plain sight.
We know Blackest Night: Flash focuses on Barry and Wally and has live Rogues vs. dead Rogues. What if Wally West dies at the end of Flash: Rebirth, and Blackest Night: Flash has live Barry vs. Black Lantern Wally West? There has been speculation that at least some of the Black Lanterns will return to life by the end of Blackest Night, and Wally could be brought back by the end of the event. Kind of like the way Kyle Rayner was temporarily bonded to Parallax during Sinestro Corps War.
And now for a scoop by @liabrown1: At the DC Universe panel on Saturday, they announced that the Flash ongoing series will launch in March 2010. This lines up with the 3-issue Blackest Night: Flash miniseries starting in December. With any luck, September may be our last month without a Flash book for a long time!
She adds that DC is “not ready to announce” the artist on the Kid Flash series, which implies that they’ve at least got someone in mind.
Update: CBR’s coverage of the DCU panel is up.
Update 2: Newsarma’s DCU Editorial write-up is up too, and there’s a bit of confusion as to how many Flash books are launching when.
August 28, 2009
Last night I logged into Twitter and found myself in the middle of a storm in which people were posting joke names for speedsters. It all started when Geoff Johns posted the following:
- @GeoffJohns0: RT @Brainiacphive Hello. I have a name for you for a Flash character: Speed Date. #newspeedsters
Well, people went with it! You can read them all at #newspeedsters until the posts drop off of Twitter search’s radar in a few weeks. Some of my favorites:
- jonahlantern: this one is easy. Bad guy team. Jamaican, with ice powers on top of speed. Cool Runnings.
- blacaucasian: Runs Really Fast. Because he runs really fast.
- mgrabois: Usain Bolt (a popular suggestion, but I think this was the first)
- jester1436: Quickstep and Foxtrot
- MarkWaid: Charlie Hustle
- Knippenberg: Captain 23-Skidoo
- mattfraction: Th Flsh (@shanajeanh remarked, “too fast for vowels?” )
- Mike2112McKone suggested several, including: Zip, Zap, Whoosh, Reverb, Skid and iSpeed.
- Bart_Allen: All Day I Dream About Speed- another corporate sponsored speedster (in response to my suggestion of Sprint – and in case you’re wondering, look at the first letters.)
- ValVictory: Krackle and Pop as in the sounds of the speedforce (I suggested “The Sounds of the Speed Force” it sounded like a band, and VV agreed, saying “Anyone play bass?”)
- ValVictory: happy fun American run fast time man — That one is from overseas.
- ValVictory: Sir speeds a lot — The U.K. flash
- bobbynash: Fast Bastard
- housetoastonish: Speedy Alberto Gonzales – He’s Quick To Judge
Stephen Wacker chimed in with a number of characters based on people in the comics industry.
- Ran Didio. Slow-ey Cavalieri. Street Tomasi. Matt Traction. Slowing Gates. “On your Mark, get set, WAID!”
- I can’t stop….Drag Rucka. Ethan Van Slider. Slow Quesada. Richard Running. gRANt. Chasin’ Aaron. Axel Alonso.
And here are my own humble contributions:
- Mr. Zip, of course! (As in the panels from “The Return of Barry Allen.” I was really surprised no one had suggested it yet.)
- The Running Man
- Sprint(tm), the corporate-sponsored speedster
- The Hot Flash
- Zoom’s little brother, Vrooom
- Greased Lightning
- Spud Racer – the Mr. Potato-Head Flash.
- Theed Racer, the Flash from Naboo
- Race Windu. He’s powered by Force Speed instead of the Speed Force.
Some Friday linkblogging:
Former Impulse writer Todd Dezago is working on a Casper the Friendly Ghost miniseries. Update: Newsarama has an interview.
Again with the Comics considers other times that DC’s heroes have had to face undead former allies.
Being Carter Hall posts a sketch of Hawkman and the Golden Age Flash by classic artist Sheldon Moldoff.
Silver Age Comics looks back at the Great Price Increase of 1961.
Grumpy Old Fan considers the essential difference between Marvel and DC and how it impacts continuity, long-form storytelling and relentless pursuit of imperfection.
Comic Book Heroes profiles the Flash.
Update: The Nerdy Bird has located a sexy Flash costume (and a scary Batman one). Update 2: The first woman in the SDCC Flash Sighting post appears to be wearing this costume.
Update: Custom Paper Toys’ paper JLA figures will be available at Arby’s (via Robot 6)
August 26, 2009
Well, I said I wanted this issue to knock my socks off, and Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Sciver certainly delivered! After three issues of setup, Flash: Rebirth #4 kicks the story into high gear. Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, stands revealed as the villain behind Barry Allen’s troubles, the mythology of the speed force expands, and everyone gets involved in a high-stakes battle for the legacy of the Flash.
The Professor is In
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Reverse Flash. Sure, there’s a reason the evil counterpart is a standard villain type. For one thing, it’s always interesting to see what a villain can do with the same powers but no scruples (as demonstrated admirably when Lex Luthor and the Flash have their minds switched in “The Great Brain Robbery” episode of Justice League Unlimited). For another, when the villain has the same powers as the hero, it cancels out the hero’s usual advantages — but the side effects of their struggle are often doubled.
The thing is, Professor Zoom always struck me as an overdone, melodramatic villain, evil or the sake of being evil — the kind who would twirl his mustache while tying Iris to the railroad tracks. Maybe that was because he never really got updated with modern storytelling the way the Rogues did, except for a single story — appropriately enough, Mark Waid’s “The Return of Barry Allen.” By contrast, I found Hunter Zolomon a much more interesting character with unusual motivations, though one who should be used sparingly. So having Zoom II taken off the playing field in Rogues’ Revenge and Zoom I brought back at the same time as his own arch-nemesis seemed, well, lazy.
This issue, however, presents a Zoom who is thoroughly menacing. Barry’s internal monologue zeroes in on the key constant in Zoom’s appearances: he’s a predatory stalker. And now he’s been reimagined as — like his opposite number — a scientist. A scientist with an obsession and no ethics committee, who has spent his life experimenting on the subject of his fixation.
There’s so much going on in this issue that the first time through I didn’t realize what a huge chunk of exposition is dropped at the beginning of the issue. For one thing, it’s interspersed with a battle. For another, despite Thawne’s academic affectations, it’s much more straight-forward than the technobabble at the beginning of the last issue.
Also: a couple of items bring home the fact that this entire miniseries (or at least what we’ve seen so far) takes place in the space of one day. The first issue established a number of celebrations and parades that were going to happen later that day — and this issue, one of the battles crashes through that parade.
I don’t think I can say much more without giving away plot points, so be warned: Spoilers after the cut.
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Yesterday I re-read Flash: Rebirth #1-3 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. Today I bought Flash: Rebirth #4 (and even managed to pick up the variant cover) and read it during lunch. Here are my first impressions, with a full review to come later tonight:
The story has really picked up. It seemed like twice as much happened as last issue.
It had some genuinely tense moments, including one at which I thought to myself, “If they actually go there, I’m done. Out. Finished.” Which made the subsequent save all the more satisfying.
In fact, there were at least three “HELL, YEAH!!” moments in the book, and Ethan Van Sciver made very effective use of splash pages for them.
Now that I’ve read the whole issue, Professor Zoom’s “negative speed force” concept (mentioned in the preview) makes sense. That said, there’s another revelation about the speed force that really, really bothers me. Yes, it’s been hinted for at least a year, but it feels extremely, well, forced. Also illogical, considering one of the primary functions of the speed force.
Overall much more satisfying than last issue, and the ending actually makes me want to read more.
I’ll post a full review tonight after I have time for a second read-through. Update: The full review is up!
Yesterday I ran a quick poll on Twitter and Facebook asking people whether they were excited about Flash: Rebirth #4, due to hit shelves today. Of the 23 responses so far, 3/4 said they were excited or looking forward to the book, with 57% choosing the “excited” option. Only one person each (4%) said they were “dreading” it or were buying it, but not particularly interested. 17% (4 people) responded that they had lost interest.
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August 25, 2009
25 years ago, Kenner launched a line of DC super-hero action figures under the name Super Powers. Today, Crisis on Earth-Blog unites fourteen sites in celebrating this landmark toy line. In particular, check out Crimson Lightning’s week-long coverage, starting with a review of the Flash mini-comic. (“Mini-comic,” you ask? Read on!)
The Super Powers figures were 6″ toys with a twist — sometimes literally. They really were action figures. Each figure would perform an action if manipulated, usually by squeezing the arms or legs. Squeeze Superman’s legs and he’d throw a punch. Hawkman’s wings would flap. Robin would do a karate chop, and Wonder Woman would lift her bracelets to block bullets. If you squeezed Red Tornado’s arms, his lower body would spin.
Naturally, if you squeezed the Flash’s arms, he would run.
Each figure starred in his (or her) own miniature 16-page comic book, around 4 inches high. To keep things readable they typically had only one or two panels per page. Villains and other heroes were pulled from the rest of the toy line, along with a couple of playsets and vehicles.
The Flash (Barry Allen) appeared in four of the mini-comics.
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August 24, 2009
The Source has posted a four-page preview of Flash: Rebirth #4, due out Wednesday. DC has also posted the final version of the main cover and the variant cover.
I think this is the first time I’ve really liked both covers on this series. With issues #1 and #2 I liked the main covers much more than the variants, and then with #3 I liked the variant much more than the main cover. (I did manage to track down a copy at Comic-Con International.) This time…I may actually try to get both.
Dash over to The Source and check it out!