Some Explaining To Do

I feel bad for not saying anything until now. It's a case where you keep meaning to do something but... not actually getting around to doing it because you're probably lazy and/or inconsiderate.

It's been months since I've posted a review (or anything really) on here. I'm not dead. If that was not already obvious. The actual reason for my inactivity here is because a few months back I was asked to write comic reviews for PlayerAffinity.com. I decided to give it a shot, and that's where my reviews are currently being posted. I'm also reviewing the Young Justice show there. And news articles where I really just make immature comments on news. I'm still (not) learning that whole journalistic integrity thing.

I'd like to be more active here again, but it's kind of time consuming. I haven't yet figured out a way to balance what I do there with doing things here as well. I do miss doing those solicitation commentaries, though.

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Commentary on Marvel's March Solicitations

Avengers Vs. X-Men #0

But... Scarlet Witch has already returned. In a nine issue story that takes forever to tell itself and really should have been the 2011 event instead of Fear Itself.

Avengers: X-Sanction #4

Versus Spider-Man and Wolverine in the final issue? Wow. Pure cheap marketing at its most shameless.

Avengers Assemble #1

Hopefully the brand new Zodiac relates to the Scorpio in Battle Scars. Otherwise... get on the same page, Marvel.

Avengers #24

Isn't their only one set of Avengers with a relationship on any level? The Gorgon and Wolverine will finally give in to their passions.

Avengers #24.1

Good luck, point one. You're going to have to work hard to convince me the return of old Vision isn't a bad idea.

New Avengers #23

Could Jess and Luke adopt Skaar? ...Actually, that would be kinda interesting.

Secret Avengers #24

Now, I'm not saying this is going to be bad or anything. But Captain Britain makes me so, so sleepy. Hey, can we relaunch a MI:13 book now that Captain Britain is elsewhere?

Avengers Academy #27

I like the Runaways, but... man. They couldn't get me to read Daken: Dark Wolverine, and I don't think they can get me to read this either.

Ultimate Spider-Man #8

I thought Ultimate Scorpion was one of the Spider-Clones? I was kind of looking forward to that.

Ultimates #8

Damn those People.

Ultimate X-Men #9

I stopped reading beforehand, but didn't Ultimate Colossus get horribly ruined? Nick Spencer must like challenges.

Amazing Spider-Man #682

The next big Spider-Event? We didn't even need the last one.

Venom #14

Interesting. This New Fantastic Four thing is lasting longer than a month?

Carnage U.S.A. #4

Yeah, but what about Hybrid? You showed me an image of him in the first issue! Scott Washington was awesome. Flash Thompson totally stole his thing.

Scarlet Spider #3

...Can you declare something a runaway hit of 2012 when it's still 2011?

Winter Soldier #3

Doom vs. Bucky doesn't look like it's going well.

Journey into Mystery #635

Yeah, but what about Loki's new puppy?

The Mighty Thor #12

This book doesn't deserve awesome Dell'otto covers.

Hulk #49

It really feels like Jeff Parker has gone off on a huge tangent with this book. Marvel's just trying to stretch out Ross' time as a Hulk as long as it will go now.

Fantastic Four #604

Wonder what the deal is with them still wearing those uniforms with Johnny back. Sorry, Johnny. The family clearly doesn't expect your resurrection to last very long. You're like a pet they don't want to name and get attached to.

Invincible Iron Man #514

And what did Tony do in Fear Itself? Oh, right. He created god weapons that helped save the day. I'm supposed to care that he did that drunk? That's like a triumph of alcoholism.

Battle Scars #5

I don't know, but isn't Nick Fury always involved in conspiracies at the heart of the Marvel Universe? That's like asking what Spider-Man has to do with all the webbing plastering New York.

Thunderbolts #171

Oh come on! Can I time travel to the end of this time travel story? Or does it just continue all the way to the end of time? Probably does. Damn.

Defenders #4

Shadow puppets. Strange can no longer do them as he once so loved.

Villains for Hire #4

Oh stop trying to tell me they're cult favorites. They're not. That's not even the Scourge anyone ever cared about.

Age of Apocalypse #1

I loved Age of Apocalypse. ...But there's nothing left of it to care about. And the whole evil Weapon X thing was just lame.

Astonishing X-Men #48

It's been so long since this series had a point to it that I don't even remember what it was.

Uncanny X-Men #8 & #9

Namor will put on a shirt? Unpopular move.

Wolverine and the X-Men #7

The lack of Bachalo should make me want to read this book more but... not really.

Uncanny X-Force #23

Sleeeeepy.

Daken: Dark Wolverine #22 & #23

The final confrontation? Don't make promises you won't keep, Marvel. End the series with Daken's head on a pike.

X-Factor #233

Havok strikes me as a really crappy detective.

Generation Hope #17

So the mutiny Asmus was none too subtle about foreshadowing happens so soon.

Wolverine and Nick Fury: Scorpio TPB

Interesting time to republish this. Battle Scars tie-in?

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The Post-Bendis Era of Avengers

Controversial as it has been, I would have to say that I've really enjoyed Brian Michael Bendis' handling of the Avengers. I may not go as far as to say it's been my favorite, but I have been reading more Avengers comics and been more invested in them than at any other time. So what is going to happen to the franchise after he leaves worries me. I mean, I feel pretty okay with the idea of him finally ending his long run. But what is Marvel going to follow him with?

Could another one of Marvel's architects take it over? Jonathan Hickman is already writing his own Avengers with the Ultimates, and Ed Brubaker has made it clear that he doesn't enjoy writing team books. With them off the table, the idea of an Architect taking over is a scary one. I can't say a Hell No loud enough to express how much I wouldn't want to see Matt Fraction do the job. He failed as one of Marvel's supposed top writers with Fear Itself. I'm not saying the guy doesn't deserve another chance, but this shouldn't be that chance. Let Defenders be the chance to try proving himself again. And Jason Aaron? He seems busy with Wolverine and the X-Men and Incredible Hulk. I think he's proven that he's going to be a great writer, but he's also proven that he just isn't there yet. He hasn't learned how to filter out the stupid ideas from his good ones yet. I'm looking at you, Hellfire Kiddie Club.

Marvel does have plenty of writers outside of the Architects, though.

People in general seem to be high on Jeff Parker. I could see that, but I also don't see him as the best choice. Thunderbolts and Hulk both started strong. But Thunderbolts has gone slowly gone downhill with no incline in sight while Hulk feels like it has lost the momentum of Ross walking a mile in Hulk's shoes and is just spinning its wheels. Still, he wouldn't be a bad choice. It would be a smart move to have him writing Avengers so long as Ross is going to be a member of that team.

A writer I think should be definitely be considered for the job is Greg Pak. After the acclaimed runs he had with Hulk and Hercules, it's time to move him up the ladder. It's a waste of talent to have him on things like Alpha Flight and Astonishing X-Men. He should be writing Avengers or New Avengers. Through New Avengers, he could easily resume writing stories with a mortal Hercules, who would be an easy fit on that team. With Avengers, he could write more Storm, who he seems to be very interested in writing. This is all on top of whatever new things he could do with access to a new crop of characters. I know I would personally be really interested in seeing him develop Noh-Varr in Avengers. He has a good track record dealing with aliens.

And perhaps I'm a fanboy, but I would kill to see Greg Rucka write New Avengers. I really wanted him to take over Secret Avengers, but that ship seems to have sailed. So I will happily take him writing New Avengers as a consolation prize. Seriously, this is the guy who gave us incredibly strong stuff with Renee Montoya, Batwoman, Sasha Bordeaux and Wonder Woman over at DC. I think I would love to see him write a series with a cast that included Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird. What else is Marvel going to do with him? Just have him write nothing but Punisher?

Even though there are some good choices out there for writers, I still worry about the fate of the franchise. Can New Avengers even survive without Bendis? I mean, that book really has no premise beyond "Bendis' Avengers."

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Commentary on DC's March Solicitations

Justice League #7

Five years later, the Justice League still hasn't realized their excessive seams look stupid.

Justice League International #7

A bold, new and unexpected direction? Holy crap. So the book is going to be interesting?

Aquaman #7

Should Diana hide her golden lasso?

Wonder Woman #7

I also remember the myth of Hercules, making me bored with Wonder Woman's new origin.

Flash #7

Love how people think they're being more creative when they really just make a character's power simpler and more convenient. I would call it lazy writing but can't come that close to implying that this book actually has a writer. Okay, that was kinda mean.

Green Arrow #7

There is only one way a story with Oliver Queen and hot triplets should go.

Mister Terrific #7

So many titles getting new writers. But not his one. ...Digitus!

Superman #7

DC is really pushing this Wildstorm integration thing. I'm for it. If you're going to do it, do it.

Batman #7

Birdies!

Batwing #7

This makes me happy.

Birds of Prey #7

It's a shame. This book is actually pretty decent. But no Oracle? No Birds of Prey.

Batgirl #7

Oh, this is going to rile people up. Poor Gail. Stuck in a no-win situation.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #7

STOP DRAWING A MOUTH ON THE HELMET.

Nightwing #7

Given recent cancellations, it's good that Daken has found work at DC.

Green Lantern #7

Oh stop pretending about Hal. We'd be happy with just Sinestro in the book.

Green Lantern Corps #7

Didn't John just kill Mogo? Do we need him having guilt over some random Lantern's death too?

Red Lantern #7

Nice, DC. You just gave away the twist with the human Red Lantern. At least I can say early that I called it! But will the book stop being boring by this point?

Stormwatch #7

...Can you steal that? It seems kind of heavy.

Deathstroke #7

The swords. Good lord. Why are this book's covers always so ridiculous?

Grifter #7

...Nope. Other artists can't make Midnighter's new look any good either.

Voodoo #7

That... almost ruins cleavage for me.

Suicide Squad #7

I don't suppose that is supposed to be Joker's actual face from the first issue of Detective Comics.

Men of War #7

Whoa, whoa, whoa. James Robinson and J.T. Krul? ...What have you done, DC?

Hawk and Dove #7

...This transcends jokes. It transcends many things. This may now be a religious experience.

Static Shock #7

Does Phayze know Digitus?

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Commentary on Marvel's February Solicitations

Winter Soldier #1

Hell yeah. So looking forward to this series. I knew Marvel wouldn't be stupid enough to waste all this on a cheap death stunt in Fear Itself.

Winter Soldier #2

It's probably too much to hope for a Monsieur Mallah appearance, huh? For some reason, I'd like to see him and Natasha fight.

Battle Scars #4

Everything said about this series can be summed up as "Hype-hype-hype-hype-HYPE!" Seriously, I don't think anything of any substance has been said about this book.

Defenders #3

Whoa. Danny's packing on the pounds there. More Iron Chef than Iron Fist.

Fear Itself: the Fearless #8 & #9

I'm a little ashamed to say this series interests me a little. Me likey Valkyrie and Crossbones. Still, I bet it could've been told in half the issues.

Captain America #8

Didn't we just do a story where Steve loses the effects of the serum?

Avengers Academy #25 & #26

Oh, just give me Young Avengers instead already.

Journey into Mystery #634

Can Gillen just write all the Thor books, please?

Captain America and Bucky #627

So it's Captain America and a Bucky this time.

New Avengers #21

Hm. Not sure who I hope leaves. I wouldn't mind Wolverine going. He's unnecessary with Iron Fist, Daredevil and Spider-Man all there.

Secret Avengers #22

Yeah, but what about Jim Hammond? That is the original Human Torch, right? I don't care about freaking Giant Man. Not unless Remender is going to make him an interesting basketcase again.

Ultimates #7

Ultimate Falcon is awesome. That is all.

Scarlet Spider #2

Still disappointed this isn't Ben Reilly, but I'm going to at least check it out.

Avenging Spider-Man #4

Greg Land? Really? ...I'm terrified of the photo-referencing he will do for Spidey bending his body around. He's going to have to watch a whole new kind of porn.

Venom #13

I see what you're doing there, Marvel. New Fantastic Four. Tricksy.

Black Panther: Most Dangerous Man Alive #529

I wonder what Marvel's next attempt with T'Challa will be. This started pretty good but became too Batman and redundant with Daredevil's return. Hell, that cover looks just like Batman.

Fantastic Four #603

I'm surprised how quickly the Future Foundation costumes have totally grown on me,

Six Guns #5

This story really hasn't been bad. Probably Diggle's best Marvel stuff.

Villains for Hire #3

Cult fave villains like Tiger Shark, Avalanche, Shocker and Scourge. Aw, that's just the saddest hype I've ever heard. I'm pitying this book now.

Thunderbolts #170

Come on! Still? STILL? ...King Arthur's court?! This book better not get cancelled before the damn team comes back to the present.

The Twelve #9

I don't even remember what was going on.

Wolverine and the X-Men #6

I had a dream exactly like that cover, and that is why anything involving pregnancies and births makes me pass out.

Uncanny X-Men #6

Psylocke looks like she enjoyed it.

X-Men Legacy #262

Wait, when did Exodus become a classic? Did I miss that? And did he ever get a personality of his own?

Astonishing X-Men #47

With McKone's art, this is very Exiles.

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Commentary on DC's February Solicitations

Justice League #6

As far as DCnU redesigns go, that's actually one of the better ones.

Justice League International #6

Why is Rocket Red's armor looking less and less like armor? Seriously, why bother having an armored character then? Maybe the idea is that the new armor is just so advanced that it looks so... boring. The New 52! If it's interesting, it's obsolete.

Aquaman #6

Hell yeah. Mera spotlight! I still think DC missed a big opportunity bringing Aquaman make rather than giving her the lead role of the Aqua-franchise. You can't name her as one of your top female characters if you have her playing second fiddle, DC.

Wonder Woman #6

Aw, puppy.

Flash #6

Manapul puts together some good covers. Terrible stories. But good artwork.

Captain Atom #6

An ending I'll never see coming? "To be continued in issue 7"?

Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men #6

If this is Simone's last issue, this book is so screwed.

Green Arrow #6

The secret of Blood Rose that has been plaguing Green Arrow's life... for all of an issue or two.

Mister Terrific #6

...You just make me sad, Mister Terrific.

Action Comics #6

So the Superman of the future travels to the past when he was more interesting.

Batman #6

Awesome series so far. Not... really a fan of that cover, though. I'm resisting a Mr. Owl Tootsie Pop reference.

Batman: the Dark Knight #6

Why do you want to hurt Secret Six fans, DC? Suicide Squad hurts enough.

Batwing #6

Yeah, I totally forgive DC for making this instead of a Nightrunner series. ...Not that I would turn down a Nightrunner book.

Batman and Robin #6

It's unhealthy how much that capital B in NoBody annoys me.

Birds of Prey #6

Nope. That's still not Oracle.

Batwoman #6

Detective Maggie Sawyer? I didn't realize she got demoted.

Nightwing #6

That cover just makes me miss Nightwing's blueness.

Batman Beyond Unlimited #1

You just had to keep Adam Beechen on board, didn't you?

Green Lantern #6

Sinestro's expression is a bit... rapey.

Green Lantern Corps #6

Didn't we just do something like that in the Weaponer arc?

Green Lantern: New Guardians #6

I appreciate how Fatality consciously manifests a zipper on her uniform and then chooses not to employ it. That attention to cleavage management is great.

Red Lanterns #6

Nice try, cover. But I've read this book. I know interesting and intense things don't happen in it. Flamehead there is just going to preach philosophically about his rage all issue.

Justice League Dark #6

Zatanna's new look has really grown on me. The great art doesn't hurt.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6

Makes me curious to go back and try Hellboy's comics.

Stormwatch #6

Oh, come on. I don't want to keep reading this book. I want to read the two good Wildstorm books. Tying them into this one is just mean.

Deathstroke #6

A retelling of some of Deathstroke's history? Could be interesting. This has been one of the better handled books so far.

Suicide Squad #6

Wow. DC is really pushing Stormwatch.

Voodoo #6

So, Ron Marz is on the list of writers DC has pissed off?

Static Shock #6

You know... the hooded look works really well for him.

Hawk and Dove #6

Really, DC? Liefeld on both the writing and art now? You didn't just find a new low. You found a shovel.

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Thoughts on Green Lantern: the Animated Series

So I caught the premiere of the new show. I really hadn't been paying much attention to its development. I knew it was coming, that it would feature the Red Lanterns and that it would be another show done completely in CGI. That's about it. This wasn't a shown I was anxiously awaiting the air date of or anything.

For the most part, I would say I liked it, but I wouldn't go beyond saying it's just okay either. The storytelling is done in a way that both kids and adults should be able to enjoy it. Characters do die, but their deaths aren't done in graphic or shocking ways that would make the show inappropriate for kids. So it manages to have that sense of real stakes to the drama that adults will be into without sacrificing the younger audience. What I personally enjoyed the most in the premiere was the portrayal of the Guardians of the Universe. Not only did they have probably some of the best animated designs but the show doesn't go over-the-top with their less than admirable natures. They're actually more understandable here. Ganthet does steal the show among them, but it's also cool to see Sayd and surprisingly even Appa Ali Apsa. As far as the Green Lanterns go, the best among them is probably Shyir Rev, who I think was brand new. His character had the most depth and personality out of the admittedly few Green Lanterns we actually got to see in the premiere. Some of the better moments of action and drama featured him too.

The Red Lanterns are kind of a letdown for me here. There's a strong sense of "generic bad guys" to them. This is especially the case with ZIlius Zox, who's totally a generic bad guy lackey. Between this and Peter Milligan endlessly droning on in Red Lanterns, I'm not feeling like it's a great time to be a big Red Lantern fan. It's not hopeless, though. This was just the premiere, so there's hope that the show can better develop the Red Lanterns as they go. The one made for the show, Razer, stood out the most. Yeah, he's a cliche himself too, but he does at least offer a lot of potential. He's pretty much the only character in the show right now with a character arc going, and that arc could go in a few different but interesting directions.

Hal Jordan and Kilowog are pretty much the only other Green Lanterns we get in the show, and a lot of the disappointment here revolves around that. It sucks that we don't have a larger cast of Green Lanterns. The dynamic between Hal and Kilowog is unfortunately pretty dull, and the characterization of both of them is pretty shallow. We do get a little deep with Kilowog concerning the loss of his homeworld, but he's mostly played as just your typical big guy who hits stuff. And with Hal... well, it seems like writers of every medium are always trying to squeeze more personality out of him than he actually has. It always leads to this awkwardness where sometimes he's funny, sometimes he's trying to be intense, sometimes he's just a moron but sometimes he saves the day. It feels like they're always reaching for something that's not there and end up defaulting to him being just "generic hero guy." I'm not saying Hal just has no personality, but it is one that really needs to be framed with the right cast of characters. I think pretty much any of the other human Green Lanterns would have been a better choice for leading man in this show.

I'm noticing the most controversial thing about the show is the CG. It didn't really put me off to the show, but at the same time, I didn't really find it appealing either. I thought it would grow on me. It didn't. Even at the end of the show, I was still unhappy with the lack of details and the body proportions. Everything continued to look so artificial, like I was watching toys act out a story. This really isn't the same thing as shows like Transformers Prime and Star Wars: the Clone Wars. I really had no problems getting into the CG animation of those shows. In this case, the CG is going to be an obstacle for the show. I don't hate it, but I don't like it.

Overall, I was able to enjoy the show. It's just nothing great. The Red Lanterns were kind of lame, and it really needs a better cast than just Hal Jordan and Kilowog. There's definitely the potential for improvement, though. Animation tends to get refined as shows go on. There's a good chance characters will get better defined and more will be added. I just don't think this show will be the next Star Wars: the Clone Wars anymore than the Green Lantern movie was the next Star Wars.

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Commentary on Marvel's January Solicitations

Fear Itself: the Fearless #7

Is the Thing trying to be... sneaky?

Avengers Academy #24

But I don't really want an all new White Tiger. I like Angela Del Toro.

Mighty Thor #10

Man, Tanarus' design is so painfully boring.

Invincible Iron Man #512

Oh, stop calling it the Iron Man. It's not catching on.

Avengers #21

Well, they are down a God of Thunder. I wonder if Storm answered a help wanted ad.

New Avengers #20

Seriously, is Jessica Jones EVER going to pick her superhero identity? This is getting ridiculously dragged out now.

Avengers: the Children's Crusade #9

A new direction for the Young Avengers? Could this, new, unheard direction be them finally getting a damn ongoing series again?

Avengers: X-Sanction #2

From the writer of Ultimatum! ...Wait, why is everybody running away?

Avengers Annual #1

Do the Avengers still have a front door? Avengers Tower go boom.

Ultimates #6

Sweet! Ultimate Falcon is awesome. Now, just give me Ultimate Captain Marvel too.

Scarlet Spider #1

Eh, it's not Ben.

Carnage U.S.A. #2

This is what happens when the Republicans keep grasping for other candidates. Carnage won't perform well in the debates either, guys. Settle.

Amazing Spider-Man #677

Fine. Since Dan Slott isn't writing it and it's a crossover with Daredevil, I'll read it.

Amazing Spider-Man #678

New York Destroyed? That's not the future. That was yesterday. And the week before. And a couple months before that. Then a month and a half before that.

Alpha Flight #8

Ouch. So much for ongoing. The Unity plot did kind of suck, though.

Black Panther: the Most Dangerous Man Alive #528

It's not bad, but I really was hoping for more than this from the Most Dangerous Man Alive thing. This is not even a new direction.

Fantastic Four #602

Be a shame if Nova's not involved in this at all.

Thunderbolts #168 & #169

Come on. How long is this time travel story going to go on for?

Wolverine and the X-Men #4

Why the Bamfs? Just why?

Uncanny X-Men #4

Yay Phalanx.

Uncanny X-Force 19.1

Is there really anything left to Age of Apocalypse anymore? It sure didn't seem like it.

X-Men Legacy #260.1

This school has a teaching staff almost as bad as Avengers Academy.

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Commentary on DC's January Solicitations

Justice League #5

It's cool that Cyborg is going to be a founder, but I still say him being the "kid" of the group has a diminishing effect on that.

Justice League International #5

Hey, it's whats-her-name again! Just what this book needs. More characters who can be poorly fleshed out and explained.

Aquaman #5

Don't drink your pee, Arthur. That guy's a glorified stuntman. Watch Dual Survival.

Flash #5

I... really don't think anyone is calling Mob Rule the hottest new villain in the DCU.

Captain Atom #5

Puppy!

Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men #5

So is Gail Simone really quitting this title or what? You really can't afford to piss off any more of your good writers, DC. Marvel is running out of books to have them write.

Green Arrow #5

You know, I don't think you can play the "secret from the past" card five issues after a reboot that completely changes the characters past. You know what's secret about Green Arrow's past? Just about ALL OF IT.

Savage Hawkman #5

The big Hawkman revamp involved such unique and creative ideas as making Hawkman's wings and armor like an alien symbiote with the addition of a Wolverine-y set of claws. Now... zombies. Yeah, this book is not exactly a beacon of creative thought in the New 52.

Mr. Terrific #5

Oh, I really doubt this will be considered the character's finest stand. Really? We're doing aliens?

Action Comics #5

Why does his rocket need a windshield? Is the baby driving it? Did Jor-El make the conscious decision to traumatize his son with a window view of Krypton's destruction and whatever the hell else might come into view along the way?

Superboy #5

I'm just not feeling this new Superboy.

Batman #5

Never ask Mr. Owl how to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. He will cut you.

Penguin: Pride and Prejudice #4

I actually thought the first issue of this was really good.

Detective Comics #5

Batman's new girlfriend. She's not Vicki Vale. But you know... she's Vicki Vale.

Batman and Robin #5

I hope Morrison resumes and concludes his big Bat-story soon. This book is burning up my appreciation for Damian. It's becoming like the early days when he was just really annoying.

Birds of Prey #5

[REDACTED]

Red Hood and the Outlaws #5

I really hope Crux is more interesting than just Hulk-Bat here.

Green Lantern #5

Where's Soranik Natu in all this anyway?

Justice League Dark #5

Not sure you can get away with the "one of them will die!" schtick with a cast that includes Deadman. It's kind of a given that someone will be dead at the end of the story.

Animal Man #5

This makes for a good Pro-Choice argument.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5

Yeah, thinking I'll sit this crossover out.

Stormwatch #5

Change Stormwatch forever? Didn't we just do that with the relaunch?

Deathstroke #5

I'm sorry, but that guy on the cover is too silly looking. He's pink. He's as scary as Bubblicious.

Suicide Squad #5

You realize how much white makeup Harley now has to put on with her new costume? ...I'm going to take a long moment to think about that.

Blackhawks #5

WHERE IS THE SKIRT.

The Ray #2

He really sounds too much like a generic superhero. What's the unique hook here?

Static Shock #5

Joey Pirahna. Bang Baby Army. Crime Alliance. Pale Man. Q-Juice. ...Seriously, guys? Do you even want new readers? Streamline this stuff. You haven't earned the right to wade this deep into your own mythos yet.

Blue Beetle #5

Aw. It rained all over Brenda's big birthday part. Wait... that's not the tragedy.

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State of the DCnU

September is over. All of the New 52 relaunches have been read and reviewed. There are still a lot of questions and things left to be developed, but we now have a solid view of what DCnU now is. We also know why. Or at least, we've been told why. The state purpose of all this, as said more than once by Dan Didio and others, was to make the DC Universe a more modern, diverse and relevant place. So basically, DC has given us three specific criteria to judge their relaunch on, and I'm going to take a crack at it now.

Modern

This is a tricky one, because what is modern? It's definitely the most vague of the three criteria. For starters, I'm going to say that modern is not nostalgia. These two things may find some common ground occasionally, but they're technically opposing points of view. If you're doing something out of nostalgia, you can't honestly say you're trying to be modern. Secondly, there's our modern sensibilities when it comes to stories. You can kind of tell what kind of stories, subjects and characters we enjoy today based off what's going on in television and movies. So I guess the questions here are how much nostalgia is there in the New 52 and how much of the New 52 has caught up to the kind of things people enjoy in other entertainment media.

There's definitely a heavy trend of nostalgia in DCnU. How often does it really buck nostalgia in favor of doing something new? Right off the bat, you have Barbara Gordon's return to Batgirl. I know Didio made a claim that this was due to accessibility, but I don't think anyone can honestly say that nostalgia wasn't the driving force behind this move. There's really nothing about it that could be considered modern. This extends to other characters too. When the Silver Age reboot happened, DC actually changed some big characters completely to be more reflective of the times. That's where we got the likes of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen from. Well, we still have them. DC really didn't try to do that this time. Marvel did with their Ultimate relaunch, but DC doesn't seem to have a single Miles Morales of its own. I can understand the case for keeping Hal around. But Barry hasn't exactly won everyone over. Carter Hall is lucky to win a good number of readers over on his best days. Oliver Queen has a long history of ups and downs with readers and is currently down. Are you telling me DC couldn't afford taking the chance on replacing just one of their headliners with a new character?

I think DCnU fairs better when it comes to meeting modern sensibilities, though. Let's start with the most controversial. The sex. The kind of television programming on the rise right now are the ones on cable. These are shows that really don't hold anything back when it comes to language, violence and sex. Now, nothing DC has done this past month comes close to any of that. Really, they've done nothing you couldn't see on almost any given night on the CW. But their moral restraints in general do seem to be looser and frankly better handled that it has been in the past, which does fall closer in line to what appeal to a lot of people in other entertainment media. Not that every title is or should be that way, but if you're going to do 52 titles, there better be some variety. DCnU has its share of graphic violence as well, but that's nothing new for comics.

There were some failures in this too, though. I think Green Arrow's attempt to come off as modern with transparent Apple references fell pretty flat. With today's 24-hour news, Justice League International was pretty superficial when it came to appealing to the more publicized international conflicts and politics people get today. And while I applaud trying to make costumes seem more updated across the board by getting rid of the dated elements, several of the new costumes still seem ten years out of date instead of modern.

Overall, DCnU has some forward momentum when it comes to appealing more to modern sensibilities. But it comes to characters and some costumes, nostalgia seems to be more of a priority than being modern.

Diverse

There are a couple different ways to approach this one. There's story diversity and the diversity of characters when it comes to race, gender and sexuality. Yeah, diversity in comics usually refers to the latter, but let's give DC some credit for the former too.

Story Diversity

Genre diversity with the New 52 is actually pretty impressive. The Dark line of comics alone has brought a wealth of horror and fantasy books into the mix. We've got a couple military genre books in Men of War and Blackhawks. Two very cool alien scifi thrillers with Grifter and Voodoo. An excellent western in a title I don't need to spell out for you. The only thing I feel is missing is some kind of crime drama or police procedural that you would normally get from some of the Bat-titles but currently aren't. Mr. Terrific is trying to be a hard scifi book, but I don't think that is going to work out for it.

Let's get to the characters now.

Racial diversity

When it comes to racial diversity, DCnU definitely has made some efforts to improve. However, the quality of some of those efforts and the absence of certain others is a bit suspect. At face value, there are a good number of titles in the New 52 with non-white leads. Unfortunately, DC only gave a few of them real quality creative teams that would assure reader attention, so half of these titles are pretty doomed. I feel good about Fury of Firestorm and Batwing. I have my fingers crossed for Blue Beetle and Voodoo. I think it's best not to get attached to Mr. Terrific, Static Shock or O.M.A.C.

There's an effort in team books too. I have huge reservations about what's going on in Teen Titans. But credit where credit is due. Scott Lobdell is trying to make things more diverse with Bugg and Bunker. He's also introducing Crux in Red Hood and the Outlaws. The most prominent example DC seems to be pushing is Cyborg in the Justice League, but I have problems giving them too much credit. Why should I? Wow. A black guy. DC did this last time too with Black Lightning, and they didn't exactly see it through very well. I know the team will also have Ryan Choi and Element Woman, but it's really no more racially diverse than the Brad Meltzer relaunch was. It also doesn't seem like DC is going to be bold enough to make a character like Black Lightning or someone a founding member in the revamped continuity.

That brings up the missed opportunities and new absences. I'm sure it's already been talked about to death how Cassandra has been damned to obscurity as Blackbat due to Barbara Gordon retaking the Batgirl identity. Despite the high popularity of the Green Lantern franchise, John Stewart continues to see no push for his character. Black Lightning is missing so far, and due to the deaging in general of the DCU, his daughters Thunder and Lightning are probably gone. Speaking of missing children, we seem to now be lacking most multiracial kids like Lian Harper, Connor Hawke and Iris and Jai West. Even though it's called Stormwatch, there is no Jackson King or Fuji, though it does have the new Adam One. Hell, it didn't even follow the trend and make Martian Manhunter's human guise black. Renee Montoya still exists but her exact status is left in question (accidental pun), and who knows if Crispus Allen will still be the Spectre.

Morgan Edge is black now, though.

I'm left feeling that DC's effort here is half-hearted. There are definitely some writers who are working towards increasing diversity in this area, but I'm not feeling a real effort on DC's part as a whole. There are too many overlooked opportunities, and DC's continuity changes and decisions feel like they have left too many non-white characters unnecessarily out in the cold.

Gender Diversity

Has DCnU really done anything here? I honestly can't help but feel we've broken even at best when it comes to gender diversity. I think we have just as many female starring titles as we did before Flashpoint. We traded Gotham City Sirens for Catwoman. We replaced Power Girl's breasts with Voodoo's. We swapped one Batgirl for another very similar Batgirl. Half of these female titles still depend on the Batman franchise. It really doesn't seem that DC has done anything but try to sustain the status quo in this regard.

There have been a few new female characters introduced, but if anything, it feels like DC has lost more than it has gained. How many popular female characters are now missing simply because of the JSA being taken out of continuity? Stargirl, Jesse Quick, Cyclone, Jade, etc. Hawkgirl has been ditched for the time being in favor of Hawkman. DC is skirting around the issue of Donna Troy's existence. We know we at least still have Karen Starr in some form, even if that form may not be Power Girl.

The missing may start to reappear in the months to come, but as it stands, this doesn't feel like an area DC really put any effort into.

Sexual Diversity

This is another area where it almost feels like DCnU has only broken even. Sure, Stormwatch has brought in Apollo and Midnighter and Teen Titans has Bunker. I think I've heard Voodoo is bisexual? Batwoman has finally started her series for real. We've lost Secret Six and most of its characters, though. Birds of Prey has relaunched without Savant and Creote. It seems unlikely that Thunder and Grace will exist in continuity anymore. Without the JSA, I doubt Obsidian is really around anymore either, at least on this Earth. We know Renee Montoya still exists, but DC doesn't appear to be using her for anything in the foreseeable future. I'm sure Mikaal Tomas probably still exists even though the whole status of the Starman legacy is up in the air at the moment.

It seems that DC has more shuffled characters around than really increased the diversity in this regard.

Relevant

DC has never had a lot of luck in this area. I mean, Marvel does Civil War and then DC tackles similar relevant issues with... Amazons Attack. It's generally a bit scary when DC goes for this kind of thing. But I guess the real question is whether they are even trying to with DCnU.

They definitely are when it comes to Superman. In Action Comics, he's much more about social justice, which is pretty relevant in today's climate. That doesn't come across as much in Superman, but even there, we still have a much more relevant Clark Kent and Morgan Edge as a Rupert Murdoch figure. This is a pretty good thing. If any property was in need of relevancy at DC, it was Superman.

There are a few other titles as well that have kicked up the focus on relevancy. Batwing opening up Africa to readers is pretty awesome. Blue Beetle looks like it may make interesting use of the U.S./Mexico border situation.

Meanwhile, pretty much all relevance got sucked out of Green Arrow. I mean, it's just a disaster there. You used to have Ollie with all his liberal loudmouthness, his multiracial son and his HIV positive partner who was a former prostitute. Now? Now, we have Apple references. Seriously, how exactly is Apple really relevant? Green Arrow used to be the champion of relevancy at DC. That sure isn't the case anymore.

It's also almost criminal that a book like Justice League International doesn't come off more relevant.

DC has another mark against it in this criteria too, though. Oracle. Actually, it's more than just Oracle. With all these men and women we have coming back from the wars going on, people with disabilities could not be more relevant. Yet, DC has given Barbara Gordon the ability to walk again. They have given Roy Harper his arm back. They have given Rose Wilson's eye back. Okay, we have Horsewoman in Demon Knights now. But come on. That hardly balances the scales. And you can't hold up Cyborg as the champion of this now either. Yeah, he counts. But he's a little too fantastical to be that relevant.

I also have to mention Apollo and Midnighter. Gay marriage is a pretty damn relevant issue right now, and what does DC do in this revamp? They basically annul Apollo and Midnighter's marriage. Come no. You were practically handed that one, DC.

DC have definitely put some effort into making their universe more relevant, but that effort is just so inconsistent. What's happened with Superman and Green Arrow is so at odds. Some books have put forth good efforts, but many books, even though they're good books, haven't really done anything to address anything relevant.

Verdict

The claim that this was all done to be more modern, diverse and relevant seems to be more hyperbole than substantive. DCnU has taken steps in all these things, but these have all been baby steps at best. At worst, they have been steps in the wrong direction. If you're going to revamp and reboot your whole continuity for these alleged reasons, you've really got to take much larger steps than this. The minimal progress DC has made with any of these criteria is really something they could have easily managed without any sort of revamp.

And you know, I'm not saying that a lot of good books haven't come out of this whole thing. They have. But we've lost some good books and characters in the trade off. This was supposed to be the point of it all. There was a goal here, or we were told there was a goal here besides hyping up a spike in sales for DC. I've got to say... DC really didn't make much progress toward that goal.

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