So, Mehcad Brooks has been cast as Jimmy Olsen in the CBS drama, Supergirl. He joins Jack Larson, Marc McClure and Aaron Ashmore among others in playing the character.
It's called "color-blind casting". Michael B. Jordan has been cast as Johnny Storm, The Human Torch, in this summer's Chronicle 2, er, Fantastic Four reboot.
Characters like Jimmy Olsen and Dick Grayson are supposed to represent the audience. I'm not necessarily going to be an orphaned millionaire philanthropist or an in investigative journalist who is secretly an alien superman. I'm not going to be The Guy; The Hero. But I could be The Guy's sidekick. That's basically the idea behind Jimmy Olsen. He's me. He's you, too. He's our stand-in. Reading Superman or Batman in the comics, you and I see Jimmy, and we think to ourselves, I could totally hang out with Superman.
Lawrence Fishburn played Perry White in Man of Steel. Sam Jones III played Pete Ross in Smallville. Now Pete's another Jimmy Olsen. Pete's a pre-Jimmy. Now, let's set aside the personal problems that Jones has had and take a look at black Pete Ross.
Smallville was not necessarily "color-blind" when it came to diversity. Jones' Pete Ross could have been a window into diversity on the series. Did Clark ever have a teacher named Jefferson Pierce? No. When the Justice Society was introduced, where was Will Everett? Okay, Will Everett was a member of the All-Star Squadron, but he was Golden-Age, just like the JSA. Sure, Vic Stone was added as a founding member of the Justice League, but where was Mal Duncan?
Here's my problem with "color-blind casting": go big or go home.
If you're going to give me John Stewart, run with it. Go all the way. That's what Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams did with the character. They did not shy away from social relevance. Jimmy Olsen doesn't need to be groundbreaking, but he shouldn't be a caricature or a stereotype either.
The problem that I have with Smallville's Pete Ross was that Lionel Luthor came to town and bought up all the land for LutherCorp from Pete's family, and people like Pete. There were no black heroes on Smallville. Just victims and villains. Diversity was seemingly bungled from the very beginning. "Color-blind casting" was wasted. Kristen Kreuk was cast as Lana, yet her parents were Caucasian, and it was never hinted that she was adopted. There was a storyline that she had a living birth father, but he turned out to be white, too.
This is what concerns me about the new Jimmy Olsen. I still want him to represent and stand for something. Let him still do all the wacky things he was able to do in the comics. Rather than making the casting arbitrary, give this new Jimmy Olsen some roots, no pun intended. Give him some background.
I hope this new Jimmy Olsen can stand next to Jack Larsen, Marc McClure, Aaron Ashmore and the other actors that have played the character. I hope he's an interesting one.
Wow, it's been almost a year since I posted a blog. Reviews have been few and far between. If you're still following me here, please leave a "Hi!" in the comments section below to let me know that you're still following me, that you read this; and maybe a thought or two in response.
One of the reasons I visit ComicVine and have a profile here is it is a fan-centered site. I can read a comic from my stash, and post a review here. I've been meaning to get back to reading and reviewing James Robinson's Starman run; then moving on to The Batman Adventures. I've been on a bit of an extended hiatus.
The main reason I've been away is that over the last few years, since 2011, my wife and I have been adopting. We've been making an almost annual trip to Kiev, Ukraine. There is a small village right outside the city, Novisilky, where the Cradle of Children's' Hope Orphanage is. We brought home our son, Justin, in October 2011. December 2012, we brought our son, Ethan, home. Just last May, 2013, we brought our daughter Isabella - Bella - home.
I've been chronicling the journey here and here, but not so much here.
I guess I could have shared my son, Justin's fascination with Smallville and the Superman story.
I could have shared how were becoming a real life First Family, or family of Imaginauts.
I could have shared that I was building my X-Men or Teen Titans team.
The journey that I was on took me away from comic books. Over here, I shared the comics that I brought with to Kiev as creature comforts to remind me of home. In the three eight week trips we made, I found one English book store. That was in the mall in Independence Square in September of 2011. It was gone by December 2012. I never found a comic book store or comic books for sale in Kiev. I saw coloring books and sticker books. I found Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl and The 39 Clues in Ukrainian. But no comics.
Another reason I've been away for awhile is that I've been downsizing my comic book collection. Kids require effort, time and attention... Just like comic books. They also require money. So, hand in hand with losing interest in investing in the latest corporate gimmick, I decided to stick with what I'm actually going to be re-reading years from now. Starman moved me in a way that few other comics have. Same with The Batman Adventures. And Marv Wolfman and George Pérez's The New Teen Titans. I have a stash of Alex Ross stuff, because, Alex Ross! Eventually, I'd like to track down all twenty issues of The Batman Family, but that's a story for another day.
Now as much as I like reading comics and writing reviews of comics. I like to write, period. But my phone ain't ringin' to write Batman, Spider-Man or Spawn, know what I'm sayin'? Especially since I've just been scribbling ideas on napkins and 3x5 cards forever, sayin' "That's a great idea, right there, I don't care who ya are!"
No, it's not a comic book. So, why bring it up? It's a start. It's a collection of the blogs I wrote while bringing my son home from Ukraine with my wife. Imagine, Alfred Pennyworth's secret diary. Man, those stories were wacky, am I right? Am I right?
Or, if Jonathan Kent had written about his son. The John Schneider or Glenn Ford Pa Kent, not the Kevin Costner one.
Anyway, I want to share that I am now a self-published author. On Amazon, Kindle and GoodReads, too!
I'll be getting back to reading Starman now, along with Batman '66, too!
Casting Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot is pretty shocking. Not because he's black. I'm not just a comic book fan, but I am a dad, too. I have two boys. They're from India, by way of Ukraine. I'm a white dude. They are not. So, to me, casting Jordan as the Human Torch shows that Hollywood in general, and 20th Century Fox in particular are lazy. It says to me as both a fan and a dad, "Hey, let's get somebody like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker or Kevin Hart to play Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot! Let's make the wacky hothead prankster black!"
What I remember about the first two Fantastic Four movies was Chris Evans. He nailed it as Johnny Storm. The chemistry that he had with Michael Chiklis' Ben Grimm and The Thing was awesome! Jessica Alba and Ioan Griffudd were okay. I don't think they were so much mis-cast as misunderstood. The script and direction were trying to make Reed cool. He's not cool. Sue is not inherently sexy, either. Sue Storm is like Betty Cooper. To me, she's the girl next door. I think the first two movies got some things right, but did not come close enough.
I'm sure there are a lot of Fantastic Four fans doing fantasy casting. As a comic book fan who is a dad, here is what I would like to see:
I would like to see Corbin Bleu, from Catch That Kid and the High School Musical trilogy as Reed Richards. Being a hero, and being smart should be color-blind. Instead of taking the easy route, and casting Jordan as Johnny Storm, cast a young, smart black Reed Richards. I enjoy Idris Elba's Heimdall. He was pretty good in The Losers opposite Chris Evans. I like watching movies that Chiwetel Ejiofor is in. I liked him in Serenity and Salt. I like Laurence Fishburne. I grew up in a world where Darth Vader was voiced by the guy who played Alex Haley in roots. The actor inside the costume was white, but the costume was black, and the voice was black. That was a big deal. Billy Dee Williams was cast as Lando Calrissian to show that black guys were not bad guys "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."
I think it's great that Nick Fury was modeled on Samuel L. Jackson and that he in turn was able to play a character that was modeled after him. The First Family doesn't need a stereotypical, token black guy. What comic books, and comic book adaptations need is more of the diversity that was shown in the Justice League animated series. J'onn J'onzz and John Stewart were a couple of intelligent adult black males. Stewart was smart. He only got angry at things that were worth getting angry over. Justice League showed that a team could be balanced, both male and female as well as racially and culturally diverse. It was a true melting pot.
I would cast High School Musical trilogy star Vanessa Hudgens as Sue Storm. Both she and Corbin Bleu have been part of a successful trilogy. The Fantastic Four is going to become a franchise. You don't make one film without the option for a couple of sequels. Sue is the team's Betty Cooper. The glue that holds all these guys together. It would be hard to find some one that was "plain" or "ordinary" to play Sue. Kate Mara is not Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie. Vanessa Hudgens comes closer to the change that the First Family needs in the 21st Century. Sue should be pretty, smart and sassy, which is what she's grown to become in the comics. She started out pretty typical for a female comic book character. Pretty much like Lois Lane. Pining away for a man. I'm reading Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1 right now and it is hilarious to see her pining for Namor, and Johnny tearing the glossy head shot up.
I would cast Victorious and Rags star Avan Jogia as Johnny Storm. Not to be stereotypical that a Hispanic or Latino should be the wacky hothead prankster; but, instead because Sue and Johnny are siblings. Sister and brother. I know blended and built families from personal experience. I know that Jordan and Mara can be Sue and Johnny. But that's not what the comics have been about for 53 years now. It's been about a family of "imaginauts" as Mark Waid described them. Attention should not be all about how different Sue and Johnny are. It should be about how different all four personalities are from one another. That's what the comic book stories have been about. These four different personalities putting aside their differences, arguments and squabbling and standing together as a quartet. That's the lesson I'm trying to instill in my boys as a comic book fan dad. We put aside what makes us different and come together as a family.
WWE star Dave Batista might just be a little too old to hang with these kids. That might work, it might not. But Ben Grimm needs to be somebody that looks like he could do some heavy lifting. That was the only weakness of Michael Chiklis' Ben Grimm. He didn't look like he could stand up for his egghead best friend Reed. He didn't look like he could do any heavy lifting if he had to. The next Fantastic Four movie is going to switch to a CGI Thing. I would hope that they use the technology for the character that was used for The Hulk in The Avengers. Any way you look at it, whoever plays the character needs to have some muscle. The actor should either be ripped, or be able to bulk up and put some muscle on. That's someone like Batista, or John Cena, or another one of the WWE stars getting their big break and being cast as Ben Grimm. I see Ben as the "token white dude". I think the one thing that should carry over from the comics is that Ben is a white Jew. He should be the minority of the team.
With the number of re-launches, Marvel has had ample opportunity to do what was done with Nick Fury in The Ultimates. Instead, they chose to maintain the "status quo" and keep things the same with the Fantastic Four for 53 years. So here we are in 2014, casting the first black Human Torch; and it's a shocking, big deal. Ultimate Fantastic Four would have been the best opportunity for change and diversity. Look at both Nick Fury and Miles Morales. There have been other opportunities for change and diversity. Robinson and Kirk re-launch Fantastic Four on Wednesday, February 26th. That could have been a good time for change. Instead of probably what will happen. Launching a new Fantastic Four book set in the film universe. Fans aren't ready for change. Fans will never be ready for it. There is never a "perfect" time. There is just "do it". Let's be the change we want to see.
I like James Robinson. A lot. I guess I am a fan, obsessed with his run on Starman. I still re-read his "Talking With David" and "Tales of Times Past" issues. Every now and again, I'll re-read "Sins of the Father". His The Golden Age is classic. I enjoyed his run on Justice Society. I still try to like his Justice League: Cry for Justice, and his run on Justice League following the late, great Dwayne McDuffie. Justice Titans. There was nothing about Superman that was compelling enough to get me to pick up New Krypton or War of the Supermen. There are very few people that can write Superman anymore.
When Robinson left DC and it was announced that he would be writing The Invaders, I was excited. I thought, Okay, he didn't really get to do what he wanted with the Justice Society in Earth 2, we'll see more of what he wants to do in The Invaders! I have not read Avengers/Invaders, or Invaders Now!, so I'm not really sure what has changed since I last read them with Roy Thomas and Irv Novick in the '70's. I sure would not have imagined the first two issues that Robinson has written. I would not have imagined soldiers fighting aliens. That's how I picture The Invaders. They're colorful soldiers that fought the Axis in Europe during World War II. The DC heroes - the JSA and the All-Star Squadron - could not fight the Axis, because of the enchanted talisman that they possessed. I'm not sure what Mussolini, or Hirohito had, but Hitler had the Spear of Destiny, the spear that pierced Christ's heart, and that kept heroes like Superman, and maybe Dr. Fate and The Spectre at bay. So, the five heroes of The Invaders fought in Europe and all of the Golden-Age DC heroes fought domestic terrorists and sympathizers.
I remember The Invaders fighting Master Man, Baron Blood and The Red Skull. Nothing like the menace they face in the first two issues of All-New Invaders. The story is plausible, and makes sense. Kinda. I do have a few "spoilerish" questions though.
STOP READING NOW, if you have not read either the first or second issue of All-New Invaders.
First of all, why is it the Kree that want God's Whisper? Why not some guy who wants to rule a country or take over the world? Has that been worn out? If it has, then what's the point of the book? I see The Invaders today as Batman and the Outsiders. That first arc, where Lucius Fox was taken captive in Markovia. By Baron Bedlam. That's what The Invaders are all about. A James Bond-style villain. Like The Red Skull or Baron Bedlam, and they have to go in and Invade. I like the idea that some despot would like to get his hands on an artifact like God's Whisper and use it for nefarious means. How and why would an alien race like the Kree hear about an Earth artifact like that and think that they can use it to rule the universe?
That's probably the key to the whole thing. I can see The Invaders facing Hela. I didn't read it but they fought Thor during the war. I can see God's Whisper being part of that mission. I still wonder why a Norse goddess of death would be involved with a Christian talisman, but okay. The other question I have is, how is this mission one that Captain America is not part of, but Bucky is? He's fighting Nazi's and Hela with Namor and the Human Torch. Toro doesn't seem to be part of the mission either. But, some Captain America analogue, Major Liberty is part of the mission. He dies. Was that the point? To kill off this character; and, it not be Captain America? Where is Toro? I've not read Torch or kept up with what's been going on; so, not seeing him here makes me wonder.
Third, the Kree have already captured Namor. Now, that is a fight I would have like to see! Namor versus the Kree. Why wasn't that upfront? Why do we get a Mayberry destroyed battle between the Human Torch and the main rogue? That part of the story just feels rushed, even though the whole story seems distended for trade paperback collection.
Mostly, here's what I'm wondering: The Invaders have a Human Torch, Jim Hammond. The Fantastic Four have a Human Torch, Johnny Storm. What if, where Robinson is going with both books ends up being a cosmic crossover team-up? It could happen.
Here's what I would want to see, though. I would want to see a Batman and The Outsiders/New Teen Titans; or Justice League/New Teen Titans; or Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans; or even JLA/Avengers. Like I said, I haven't read Avengers/Invaders. I guess it had something to do with the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube. So, have the Invaders face somebody like a Baron Bedlam or Zemo; someone like that, then elevate it to cosmic proportions with the Fantastic Four.
I wasn't so much disappointed in the first two issues, as much as I think they could have been as good as Starman or Justice Society. I don't see that as apples and oranges. Good is good. I don't see where it's out of place to compare good work on Earth 2, All-New Invaders and Fantastic Four with Starman, Leave It To Chance and WildC.A.T.s. It's all about knowing the characters, concept and team. Robinson knew Opal City and all the characters in Starman. He had the Justice Society down. Even to the point where he was the right person to re-imagine the team. I guess what I was expecting was very much different from what was delivered. Kind of the same thing I was expecting from his Earth 2, Justice Society reboot. I was expecting a group of characters joining together to fight a common foe - common to Earth. I could see The Invaders fighting in outer space, kinda like I could see Jack Knight rocketing into the stars to find William Payton; traveling to Krypton, then Rann, then the future where the Legion of Super-Heroes on his way. It was something he built up over time and over several issues. Not the first shot, right from the start.
I still want to see where he's going with The Invaders. I'm still curious about what he's bringing to the book and the team, and where he's taking them. It could be an enjoyable, fun ride.
Ironically enough, between watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold on Cartoon Network, reading the companion DC title, and following a blog on The Brave and the Bold: The Lost Issues, I've found myself re-reading Superman & Batman Generations. I'm about a third of the way through Generations 3. I say "ironically", because of the current "Flashboot" under way, that has DC announcing 52 new #1's. Superman and Wonder Woman look like they will be getting a major overhaul; whereas Green Lantern and Batman won't neccesarily need one. Dick Grayson is hanging up his cowl as Batman and resuming his Nightwing identity. Tim Drake will still be Red Robin, and be a part of Teen Titans it looks like; and, Damian Wayne will still be just plain, old Robin. There will only be one Batman - Bruce Wayne. DC is saying that this is a re-launch, not a reboot.
This got me to thinking:
The underlying theme of John Byrne's Generations is not just that Superman and Batman age normally; but that they become as immortal as they seem.
Ask the average person on the street who Superman is, and he or she will probably tell you Clark Kent. He or she might answer Bruce Wayne if you asked who Batman is.
What Byrne did over three seperate series and twenty issues, was present a Superman and Batman as immortal as their legends.
In Generations, the first mini-series, Byrne tracks The World's Finest from 1929 to 2919 in ten year increments. His Clark Kent has a career as Superboy; and, as Bruce Wayne makes his way toward becoming Batman, he employs a Flying Fox (in the sedond mini-series) and an early Robin guise - much like he did in The Untold Legend of The Batman - to team-up with The Boy of Steel. The early adventures are light and fun. But, in 1969, Dick Grayson is brutally murdered by The Joker. Bruce Wayne not only outlives his first sidekick, but his mystery wife, his son and daughter-in-law, The Joker and Ra's al Ghul. It's interesting how he manages to stay alive and young. Ra's challenges him to enter the Lazarus Pit - just the two of them - the survivor wins. Naturally, Bruce and not Ra's comes out of the pit - and doesn't have a hint of madness to him. Wayne doesn't make any offer to use the pit to his estranged wife. The only person other than Bruce and Talia that use the pit is Bruce's son, BJ. And BJ chooses to stop so that he can join his late wife Kara Kent.
Superman? Byrne's Superman doesn't seem very bright or focused. He's invulnerable, so he ages more slowly than normal humans. He uses make-up to age Clark. His wife, the former Lois Lane develops cancer apparently from smoking. In Generations II, he's trapped on an alien world looking for a cure for cancer for his boss, Perry White, in 1953. Abin Sur rescues him, and, while it seems vague on whether or not he is successful in finding a cure, I'd have to say no. Perry passes off panel. In both series, He and Lois never tell their son Joel about super powers, giving Luthor an opportunity to turn Joel against them. Clark and Lois have a daughter, Kara, with super powers, which only aggravates the situation. On Kara and BJ's wedding day, Luthor murders Lois - brutally snapping her neck - Joel kills Kara, then dies at Luthors feet as Clark watches. Luthor also orchestrates the deaths of EVERY one close to Clark having learned his dual identity sometime in the mid to late '40's. With no roots or family ties, Superman abandons Earth for the wide-open galaxy in 1999. Bruce catches up to him on a distant planet in 2919 and they reminisce over old times.
Throughout the series, Bruce attempts to maintain the illusion that there has always been only one Batman. Over the years, in the main DCU, there was AzBat; and, Dick Grayson is wrapping up his second tour as Batman. Neither one has lasted very long.
Do you think Bruce Wayne should live forever? Maybe that's partly what this relaunch is all about? Sure, Dick's not being de-aged back to Robin. He did get sent back to the "minors", though. I'm not a fan of his adult Robin look on Brave and the Bold.
It almost looks like Batman is taking a soak in the Lazarus Pit.
Barry comes back from the dead. Barbara gets up out of her wheelchair. Don Hall still rests in peace, though. Who wants to live forever? Superman? Batman?
What character would you think/want to be timeless and immortal and live forever?
I'm pretty excited about James Robinson's Justice League: Cry For Justice.
I'm pretty sure by now you've read what it's about. You've probably seen the preview that G-Man posted, with Hal delivering what I believe could be the very same declaration that Batman delivered in Batman and the Outsiders #1! In fact, Hal's Justice League is reminiscent of a bunch of other versions of the Justice League over the years. J'onn J'onzz formed a Justice League: Task Force. I never read it, but this could be like Extreme Justice, what looks like an armored version of Captain Atom, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. there was the recent Justice League Elite. I'm stills cratching my head over that one. Of course there was the Justice League Detroit, that Aquaman led following the Martian Invasion and destruction of the satellite. The Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha Justice League that sprung out of Legends, following COIE. Batmanabandoned his Outsiders for that one...I feel like I'm missing a League somewhere...
Before all these weekly series and events with a capital Eve, remember when there was something called a fifth-week event? Instead of kicking back and resting on laurels, DC would put together a series that stretched over the course of a five-week month.
That's the only way I could tell that a month had an extra week.
The Justice Society Returns! was one of these fifth-week events. Classic team-ups in new first issues of All-American, Adventure, Hit and other Golden Age style books. Ironically, the book ends were written by James Robinson and David S. Goyer.
Another one of these fifth-week events, maybe one of the last ones - if not the last one - before all the madness of weekly comics and unending event mini-series was Justice Leagues. I don't think this has ever been collected, if it has it may be out of print. It had the typical bookends, and the three issues in between. Maybe you remember it. The gist of the story is that this alien insect queen wants to repopulate Earth, and hires the Advance Man to do some legwork to make Earth ready for her and her seed. the Advance Man arrives, and the first place he goes is Hector Hammond's cell. Hal Jordan is either Parallax, or maybe just come back looking for redemption as The Spectre. The Advance Man directs Hammond to broadcast a message to forget the Justice League of America, to break down Earth's defenses and smooth the way for Plura, the alien insect queen. Realizing that it means all life on earth will die, Hammond sneaks a message to remember the "Justice League of A -!" before the Advance Man can stop him. There are no less than eight new Justice Leagues that spring up over the next three issues. The funniest is Plastic Man's Justice League of Anarchy, featuring The Creeper, Harley Quinn and 'Mazing Man. This is one of four - half the new Leagues - that is shown only in passing. (Plas and his League get only one panel in Justice League of Amazons 1, in my opinion probably the weakest of the bunch.) Kyle pulls together a Justice League of Air, with Black Condor, Captain Atom, Dr. Light, Firestorm, The Ray and Red Tornado, in the same issue that Mikaal Tomas (interestingly referred to only as the Starman that fell to Earth) turns downJ'onn J'onzz' invitation to join his Justice League of Aliens featuring Guy Gardner, Lobo, Orion, Starfire and Superman. Guy gets in an inapropriate homophobic jab before Mikaal leaves.
Each of the League members know that something is not right, but can't put their finger on it. Batman and Nightwing debate the point as The Dark Knight assembles a Justice League ofArkham! - what the? - featuring Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Joker and The Ventriloquist. You gotta admit this is pretty imaginative stuff to come up with a League that starts with an "A"!
The coolest part of the Justice Leagues fifth-week storyline is that, from Hammond's broadcast, each of the original Magnificent Seven found a League that reflects them. Okay, so Aquaman brings together all of the undersea characters; but, Wonder Woman brings together both sides of her personality, warrior and emissary. Batman does the same with his Arkham League, and so does Plastic Man. Most of the other Leagues fit the same pattern, except for maybe the Alien League. And this seems to be one of the reasons that each one of them knows something is wrong. In the brief moments when each of the Leagues interract with each other they don't get along. The personality clashes are obvious.
And now, Hal gets to form his own more pro-active Justice League of Anger. Should be interesting to see the team dynamic...I'm torn over being okay that it's only a mini-series and not an ongoing. Maybe the response can affect that...
That was pretty nearly the coolest version of the Justice League in that 5th week event.
I would take The Batman leading Black Lightning, The Creeper, The Demon, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter, Metamorpho and Zatanna; with Catwoman, Black Canary and Green Arrow, Mr. Miracle, Oracle, Plastic Man and Nightwing as reservists. maybe throw Jason Todd as Red Robin or The Riddler as a wacky, way out there alternate just to shake up the status quo a little bit.
What? That was done in Kingdom Come and The Outsiders?
I wouldn't necessarily have the political bent that the original Outsiders started with, and I wouldn't have a cosmic angle either. Except for maybe a secret Martian invasion that would be more grounded and earthbound. I'd rather see Black Lightning, The Demon, Elongated Man and Zatanna form the core of the team with maybe a mythology angle. Unless that became boring and didn't sell, then I would just try anything...
So, once againMarvelone-upsDC. One of the big announcements from the NYCC over the weekend is that Marvel's Ultimate line will shut down for re-tooling and relaunch as Ultimate Comics. I read some of the coverage of the NYCC, there's probably no way that I'll ever get there in this lifetime. Anyway, it caught my attention 'cuz I read Ultimate Spider-Man, have for nearly 138 issues or so, and I had seen a kinda cryptic description in the Previews solicitation that issue 138 (if I'm off on the issue number, sorry) was going to be the last issue. it wasn't stamped FINALISSUE, in big bold letters, or anything, but rather the description said that everything happens in this the final issue of the series. It almost slipped right by me. Until I saw the announcement from NYCC and an interview with Brian Michael Bendis about ending the current series run as a Volume 1 and relaunching the title in July as a Volume 2.
From what I read the main reason the Ultimate line is relaunching is so that the titles - Ultimate versions of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers/Ultimates - could reference each other more easily. One of Bendis' comments was that he couldn't reference or react to anything happening over in any of the other titles, in USM, because their schedules were different, and by the time he could get around to it, it was too late. I don't know, I kinda liked that Spider-Man was unique that way. What happened in Ultimate Spider-Man was pretty much what happened to Peter Parker and Spider-Man. It was Peter's universe. There were only a couple of instances that Reed, Johnny, the Ultimate Fantastic Four or Logan, Kitty and the Ultimate X-Men came calling in USM and it always seemed to be on Peter's terms. I liked that.
It seemed pretty natural. Like it was part of a story that Bendis was working around Peter and just happened to branch out or spin out and include other characters. For the longest time - at least for me - Ultimate Spider-Man was an oasis from the madness that was consuming all the rest of the comic book universes. It was very much like what James Robinson had done a few years before in Starman. That sentence right there may sound a bit obsessive of my passion for that title, character and writer; but what he's doing now with Superman is so much more mainstream than the small corner fo the DCU he carved out over in Opal City. Bendis pretty much managed to do the ame thing in Queens with Peter Parker. And life was good.
What concerns me about this new re-tooling and relaunch is that it'll be much more mainstream and much easier to not only reference what's going on in the other Ultimate titles, but develop crossovers. That was what I liked getting away from in USM. There wasn't an annual event going on in. Just good, solid storytelling. Like I said, it was an oasis, and I enjoyed it. Now, there's a risk that the Ultimate titles will all be tied together with Spider-Man over in X-Men, Fantastic Four and Ultimates/Avengers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just seems that after awhile it becomes less and less about the story and more about product placement and selling books.
Whether you and I like it or not, Marvel, DC, Bendis, Robinson, Johns - you name any one of them - they are all about selling stories as much as they are about telling stories. If you are a creator, you are, too. You have to be, otherwise you're me, just writing a 'blog for kicks.
Another part of the announcement, was that Peter Parker might not be Ultimate Spider-Man anymore. And the only way to find out is to pick up Volume 2, starting in July. Bendis has introduced a bunch of cool characters in USM. His version of the Clone Saga was pretty good, and I had never read the original Clone Saga. It was nice to see something happen that just seemed to be well-planned and laid out - again, like what Robinson did over 80 issues and something like five years in Starman. There really wasn't a whole lot of waste or fluff. USM wasn't going from one issue to another by the seat of it's pants like most titles. Somthing happens and then something else happens and then something more else happens. It looked fresh and original - even thought it might have only been re-imagining storylines from over forty plus years of Amazing Spider-man - but, when you look back over each issue you see that each issue was just a single pixel or brush stroke that made up a larger picture.
Well, it looks like all of that is coming to an end. I gotta say that this Ultimatum crossover is kinda lame. But, see, I'm seeing it through the lense of Ultimate Spider-Man. I picked up the first issue of Ultimate X-Men, and it just didn't do anything. Of course there are about a dozen different X-Men books out there, so there you go...For me, there really didn't seem to be anything unique about it going in. If you loved it, God bless you. There are folks that hate Bendis and hate USM - and I appreciate that. I liked Ultimate Fantastic Four for awhile, unitl my wallet stopped liking the cover price. The Ultimates was good. I didn't really like where The Hulk or Hank Pym were going. But, hey, y'know different strokes for different folks. USM worked for me.
Now, I have to decide if I'm going to stick with Volume 2 or not. The economy, cover price, change in focus. What will be relevent and compelling about it anymore? Probably be easier to guess at the stock market...
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