September 29, 2010

Flash Omnibus to Reprint Geoff Johns’ Wally West Run

Category: Flash News — By

Now this is unexpected news! Just a few days ago, I was grumbling about how DC seemed to be ignoring a potential market by keeping Geoff Johns’ first run on The Flash out of print. It seemed like a sure thing: DC’s current superstar writer (not to mention Chief Creative Officer) on one of the books that made him famous (the other being JSA) — and one that he’s returned to with a high-profile relaunch.

Well, DC has posted a list of summer 2011 collections, including this surprise:

The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol.1 HC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Angel Unzueta, Scott Kolins, Ethan Van Sciver, Doug Hazlewood, Jose Marzan Jr. and others
Collects: THE FLASH #164-176, THE FLASH: OUR WORLDS AT WAR #1, THE FLASH: IRON HEIGHTS #1 and THE FLASH SECRET FILES #3
$75.00 US, 448 pages
Scheduled for release in May

Compared to the trade paperbacks, that reprints Wonderland and Blood Will Run (the second edition includes Iron Heights) and the never-before-collected Our Worlds At War tie-in.

Admittedly, $75 is a pretty steep price, but it’s comparable to the Starman Omnibuses and still cheaper than the typical Absolute hardcover. Also it’s usually easy to find these books at a discount. (The $50 Archive books can usually be found online for around $35, for instance.)

And considering that you have to spend about that much for a copy of the out-of-print Crossfire or Blitz trade paperbacks anyway, it’s starting to look like a good deal!

So it looks like DC has plans to bring Wally West’s Flash stories back into print after all, even the incredibly-hard-to-find Crossfire and Blitz. Judging by the length of this book, it will probably take them four volumes to cover all of Geoff Johns’ run.

(The image I’ve used here is from the cover of Flash Secret Files #3. It’s not from DC’s post, which doesn’t include any covers.)

Read This Too: Astro City

Category: Off-Topic, Reviews — By

Today, a group of comics bloggers have gotten together to recommend lesser-known gems of the comics world. Comics are more than Brightest Day and Heroic Age, and you just might want to…read this too!

Astro City. Written by Kurt Busiek; art by Brent Anderson; covers by Alex Ross. Published by WildStorm Comics.

A big part of the appeal for many comics fans is the shared universe. Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four all share the same New York. Flash and Green Lantern can fight each other’s villains. There’s a sense that, beyond what you’ve read, there’s more…a bigger world, one where things matter beyond a single story.

Astro City takes that feeling and creates a whole shared super-hero universe in a single book. Instead of following one character or team, the anthology focuses on a different hero, villain, or civilian in each story. The stories are usually about the human element, focusing more on character than on super-villain beat-downs.

Many (but not all) of the heroes are based on classic characters or familiar archetypes. Samaritan is Superman down to the blue hair. The First Family is very much like the Fantastic Four. Others are original, or far enough removed from their sources that I can’t place them.

The first volume, Life in the Big City, features:

  • A day in the life of Samaritan, who is so busy rescuing people that he can’t slow down to enjoy flying.
  • A newspaper editor tells about his first published story as a cub reporter, when he witnessed a team of heroes turning back an interdimensional invasion in the caverns beneath the city.
  • A small-time crook accidentally discovers the hero Jack-in-the-Box’s identity, and tries to figure out what he can do with the knowledge.
  • A woman who grew up in a neighborhood fraught with supernatural dangers finds herself confronted with the very different, scientific dangers that threaten downtown.
  • A neighborhood recluse turns out to be an alien spy, scouting out Earth as a potential invasion target. His decision rests on the discovery that one of his neighbors is secretly a super-hero.
  • Heroes Samaritan and Winged Victory try to go on a date, but their professional lives keep getting in the way.

You don’t have to start there, though. With very few exceptions, Astro City stories can be read in any order. Most of the stories only take one or two issues, and are collected in Life in the Big City, Family Album, and Local Heroes. There have been a few longer ones: Confession and The Tarnished Angel each take up an entire volume, and the longest story, The Dark Age, will be collected in two volumes.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Confession re-imagines Batman and Robin with a supernatural twist.
  • In Family Album, Jack-in-the-Box meets his future son…or rather, three different possible versions of his future son, all traumatized by his death. The encounters force him to rethink the life he leads as he and his wife try to start a family.
  • Also in Family Album, A man is troubled by vivid dreams of a woman he’s never met, and eventually learns that she was his wife before the reality-altering Crisis event erased her from existence. This 16-page story from 1998 is still my favorite take on the genre created by Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • In Local Heroes, a lawyer gets in over his head when he successfully uses the doppelganger defense.
  • In the upcoming Shining Stars collection, sworn enemies Samaritan and Infidel meet once a year for a cordial dinner, while a living “Beautie” doll with super-powers seeks out her origins.

Astro City took a long break earlier this decade, and has been on a series-of-miniseries schedule for the last few years. With The Dark Age finished just a few months ago, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been planning to relaunch the series as an ongoing monthly again, but the recently-announced shuttering of WildStorm may throw a bit of a wrench into those plans (or it may just launch with a DC logo on it instead).

Oh, one more thing: Flash fans might be interested in the Astro City: Silver Agent two-parter that wrapped this month (and will be included in Shining Stars). He’s not a speedster, but you’ll see what I mean. More about this in an upcoming post…

But That’s Not All!

Interested in reading more? Good! I’ve also reviewed The Unwritten at K-Squared Ramblings, and there are a lot of other bloggers participating in today’s event. Check out the lesser-known titles reviewed in these other blogs and read these, too!

September 28, 2010

This Week: Flash Chronicles Vol.2

Category: Out This Week — By

Here’s the week’s super-speed releases.

Flash Chronicles Vol.2

Written by JOHN BROOME · Art by CARMINE INFANTINO, JOE GIELLA, FRANK GIACOIA & MURPHY ANDERSON
Cover by CARMINE INFANTINO & MURPHY ANDERSON

In this second volume, Barry Allen’s rogues gallery expands with the addition of Gorilla Grodd, the Mirror Master and the Weather Wizard, plus the debuts of Kid Flash and the Elongated Man! Collecting THE FLASH #107-112.

160 pg, FC, $14.99 US

»Pre-order from Amazon.

More DC Speedsters

  • Justice Society of America #43 (starring Flash Jay Garrick)
  • Teen Titans #87 (starring Kid Flash Bart Allen)
  • Time Masters #3 (upcoming issues will feature the Reverse-Flash)

Other Speedsters

Also, Top Cow is selling the Baltimore Comic Con edition of Velocity #1 with a cover by Michael Broussard. I’m a little fuzzy on how “exclusive” these books are, unless they’re selling the excess through retail channels, or the exclusivity has an expiration date.

September 27, 2010

No Ordinary Family Launches Tomorrow

Category: Other Speedsters, Timely — By

Tomorrow night is the series premiere of No Ordinary Family, a TV drama about a family on the brink of collapse that suddenly finds itself with super powers.

Helpless-feeling Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) suddenly finds himself super-strong, near-invulnerable, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Always on-the-go Stephanie Powell (Julie Benz) gains super-speed. Their self-involved daughter Daphne becomes telepathic, and their learning-disabled son JJ becomes a super-genius.

I got to see the pilot episode at Comic-Con, and it was really promising. There’s an Incredibles-meets-season-one-Heroes vibe to it. The special effects are great, particularly Stephanie’s first super-speed run. (Later scenes rely a lot on the standard vanishing/reappearing act plus wind.) Here are my thoughts on the episode as screened at the convention. They’ve reportedly added a scene or two to set up one of the ongoing storylines.

The Flash movie writing team is heavily involved in this series as well. Greg Berlanti co-created the show with Jon Harmon Feldman, and Marc Guggenheim is involved as a consulting producer.

No Ordinary Family premieres Tuesday on ABC at 8:00pm / 7:00 central. Hulu has an extended trailer.

September 25, 2010

Berlanti Talks Flash Movie Influences

Category: Flash News, Media — By

Greg Berlanti recently spoke to SuperHeroHype about the upcoming Flash movie. Berlanti co-wrote the treatment with Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green, and it appears that Guggenheim and Green are working on the script.

He describes the tone as “somewhere in between GL and Dark Knight,” and goes on to explain how the CSI aspect of Barry Allen’s character is shaping their approach to the film.

It’s actually a little bit darker than when we were working on (‘GL’), because you’re dealing with somebody who is already a crimefighter in a world of those kinds of criminals and that kind of murder and homicide. I find you talk a lot about different films when you’re working on a film, and we spend a lot more time talking about Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs as we construct that part of Barry’s world, then I thought when we got into it. It helps balance a guy in a red suit who runs really fast.

He also talks about the possibility of dealing with alternate dimensions, fitting the sci-fi and crime parts of the concept together, and taking a “visceral and real and cool” approach to the sci-fi aspects, “more in the tone of The Matrix.”

I don’t know…I appreciate that they’re taking the character seriously and not turning it into a comedy, the way it sounded like Warner Bros. wanted to do when they had Shawn Levy and David Dobkin attached…but at the same time, I’m not sure that Se7en and Silence of the Lambs are the best source of inspiration for a character who is, fundamentally, about speed. I guess it’ll depend on how well they manage to balance things. (Assuming, of course, that this version of the film doesn’t go the way of the Goyer, Levy, Dobkin and Mazaeu versions.)

Read the full interview (well, the Flash parts, anyway, since they’re holding the complete interview until October) at SuperHeroHype.

(Hat tip to Andrew Filipe for sending me the link!)

Update: Berlanti also talks to HeroPlex about the films, adding a few notes about the speed element.

The character, like Hal, I think it’s his time. I feel like in this environment we’re in now, our society is moving quicker and quicker. There are all these ways to connect; there’s an element of our society that feels like it’s on speed, for lack of a better word. There’s something very timely about the story of the Flash at this moment, Barry Allen’s story.

(Hat tip to SpeedsterSite for pointing to the second interview!)

Speed Reading

Category: Round-Ups — By

Flash links:

Around the comics ’verse.