Would U Buy It #78: "Beowulf: Dragon Slayer"

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7807/06/12Beowulf: Dragon Slayer(Blog) (Forum)Beowulf (1975)(Back) (Next)

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Beowulf: Dragon Slayer.
Alternate Title:DC Classics Library: Beowulf OR Wonder Woman Presents: Beowulf.
TPB Cover:Beowulf #1.
Collecting 6 Issues:Beowulf #1-6.

Covers (click to enlarge):

......

I was researching my list, DC Implosion Timeline 1975-1978, when I ran across this previously ignored title. Beowulf ran just these six issues, from April, 1975 to March, 1976. I ran across a Fanzing article years ago on the DC Implosion, and went on a back issue binge one Saturday, scarfing up many of the Implosion titles, just to read them. Beowulf is one that I had no interest in, but now that I look at the covers, I'm thinking I've missed out on a cool read.

In issue #1, he's taking on Grendel - the classic enemy of Beowulf. In #2-3, it's Satan*. In #4, Beowulf fights Dracula - how freakin' cool is that? In #5, it's aliens, and in #6, it's the Minotaur*. This looks like one great romp, and it seems like this title took some twists and turns that I don't recall other barbarian titles taking.

I would go with the title of the comic as the title of the TPB, but suggested two alternate titles: DC Classics Library: Beowulf, because DC does have the DCCL line, and this might need some kind of extra help selling. In the vein of "extra help selling," I suggested Wonder Woman Presents: Beowulf, because the character has been most recently used in the 2006 Wonder Woman title. I'm not fond of that type of selling though, because it's not exactly honest. It is the same Beowulf, but they are separated by years, and this title clearly had nothing to do with Wonder Woman. There's precedence for going with just the comic title, Beowulf: Dragon Slayer, with the Sword of the Atom TPB.

For the cover, I'd go with the cover to Beowulf #1, as it shows Beowulf fighting Grendel, and is the most evocative of classic Conan covers, which can only help. However, the current version of Beowulf, in the Sword of Sorcery title, is some kind of cyborg, in a post apocalyptic future, so to pique the current reader's curiosity a little more, the cover to #5 might be better, showing Beowulf being fired at by a flying saucer.

I would love to read this in TPB, but as ever, I have to ask...

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

*Yeah, not all the links match up to the characters from Beowulf. I went with the closest DC version of the character I could link to.

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I've Always Known They Were Heroes

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  • This was originally posted on a writing website, in 2001, as a birthday gift for my dad.
  • I also had it posted on a different writing website in 2002, for the anniversary of 9-11. May all who died rest in peace, and all who survived find peace.
  • Thought I'd share it here today, in honor of Father's Day. -CB

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Happy birthday, dad! I've always known you were a hero. I just thought it was high time everyone else did, too. Love, C.

October 18, 2001

One of the most positive things to come out of last month's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is the positive attention our nation's firefighters and other civil servants have received since. The outpouring of support for them is something that brings me near to tears, every time I see it. It's about time that we, as a nation, stood up and recognized the people who, every day, put themselves in harm's way for us. They ARE, absolutely, HEROES, and much too often, that fact is taken for granted by those of us in the average workaday world.

There's only one thing that troubles me about all of this positive attention. People seem to think that our firefighters, policemen, and emergency medical technicians are heroes, because of their efforts at the WTC and the Pentagon. That's not true. They've ALWAYS been heroes – this situation is just where that heroism has come shining through!

Over the last month, the news has featured interviews with several of the rescuers, particularly firefighters, who have been involved with the efforts at "Ground Zero," in Manhattan. They've been wide open, humble, and have even thanked us for our time! It's been a small sampling of the heroes in our midst who, when they are not needed, are too easily ignored. Now, I'd like to introduce you to another one.

Mister Arthur L. Bishop is my father, and today, he is fifty-two years old. He is recently retired from his home county in Virginia, after twenty-five years of service, starting with the police department, and ending as a deputy in the sheriff's office. He's done a bit of everything there. He's both directed traffic and written tickets. He's worked the jail, the courts, and served warrants. He's been a crime scene investigator (CSI, before it was considered cool); taking the pictures and dusting for prints. He's worked in police property and logistics for the sheriff's office. He's been a training officer on the firing range, and taught a wide range of classes to deputies. He's never had to shoot anyone, though there were a few close calls. The only thing that's ever gotten him in trouble is his honesty. He tells it like it is, and those who are more concerned with political posturing than what's right, often don't want to hear it that way. To his extreme credit, even after retiring, my dad is still working, part time, for the sheriff's office.

But wait, there's more.

During Vietnam, my dad was in the United States Air Force, stationed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at Tinker Air Force Base, in Civil Engineering and Heating. Thankfully, rather than being sent to Vietnam, he wound up stationed in Alaska. He doesn't often tell stories about that time, but there is one thing I've heard repeated many times. Dad says that when he was leaving for Alaska, he was told that there was a girl behind every tree. The only problem? Where he was stationed, there weren't any trees.

Once he came back home, dad had the option of working with his brother and my grandfather, in my grandfather's television business. He opted for police work instead, but dad still knew a thing or twenty about how to fix a TV. Dad didn't stop with the police department though. He also worked for the fire department for a few years (home county Company 3), and also volunteered as an emergency medical technician with the local Volunteer Rescue Squad. He taught CPR and first aid through the Red Cross, as well as motorcycle safety courses and Defensive Driving through the National Safety Council (that's the class you get sent to, when you get a speeding ticket). He's even taught Sunday School classes!

But wait, there's still more!

Aside from his professional choices, dad has also had a few interesting hobbies. If he were a character in a movie, you'd have to call him a man's man. As a teenager, he played drums in a band. He rode, and still rides, a motorcycle. While in Alaska, he went moose hunting! In Oklahoma, he at least once worked security for professional wrestling, and that was when people, as a general rule, didn't know that wrestling is scripted. He almost got to be on TV that day, as part of the ringside action, but passed it up (and regretted it on the way home). Here in Richmond, when dad took a break from police work, he worked as a night manager for a trucking company, keeping those big rigs rolling. Later, he got so interested in stock car racing, he became a NASCAR official, inspecting race cars at Southside Speedway, a short track that was around long before Richmond International Raceway. Nothing will make your heart skip a beat like watching your dad dodge a racecar. Well, except maybe the thought of him owning his own karaoke machine!

But wait, there's STILL MORE!

On top of all that, this icon of manhood has also been my father. When I was eleven, my parents got divorced, and I chose to stay with my dad, because I didn't want to leave my home, or change schools. (Don't get me wrong, my mom's a great woman, but this isn't about her.) I got to know dad even better than I had before. In a few years, he got married a second time, and became a father to not just me, but also two more boys – my stepmother's sons, from her previous marriage. He managed to juggle us all pretty well, if I may so, and even after I moved out at a too early age (because I was hard headed, and had to do things my own way) he was still there for me when I needed him. He still is, to this day.

So you see, while the rest of the country has jumped on this mass bandwagon to support and congratulate our civil servants (and unfortunately, it's probably a passing fad) I just sit back and watch. Why are people so surprised? I've always known they were heroes, but for far too long, I failed to truly realize that I lived with one every day. Even my lifelong hobby of reading and collecting comics has probably stayed with me because of my dad. I've spent my life reading and writing the tales of superheroes, who fight evil and juggle planets, and all the while, a larger than life hero has been right beside me, helping me through real life. All he needs is a cape and a secret cave, and he's in there... Who knows? He might have a surprise for me yet.

Dad, happy birthday. And thanks. You're my hero.

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June 17, 2012 Update: At sixty-two, dad is fully retired now, and has closed down his defensive driving school. He’s now a full time granddaddy to my youngest brother’s two children. He gets them early in the morning, feeds them lunch (when my brother comes by to see them on his lunch break, every day) and sends them out the door in the evening, when my sister-in-law gets off of work. They’re a handful of fun, and dad loves every minute of it. If you give him a chance (which usually just involves being in earshot) he’ll tell you all about it.

Still no cape or secret cave, but it isn't over yet! ;)

I am so blessed and privileged to have my dad still in my life. I am thankful every day that I can still pick up the phone or drop by and see him. Happy Father’s Day, dad – love you, C.

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Was Iron Maniac a Back Door for Civil War?

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Sentinel of Liberty - even if it means Civil War

There's no question that Civil War was a risk for Marvel. Fans can choose sides easily when it comes to "DC or Marvel," but when you ask fans to choose between favorite characters, that can get sticky, because it's taking a risk with your sales. On the one hand, Iron Man sides with the government, and while he's cool and all, he's a total jerk about the way he runs the non-compliant heroes down. On the other hand, Captain America, a government-made icon and American symbol of freedom, sides against the government, eventually dying for it. For Marvel, it was that one death that ran the risk of turning everybody against them. It's the death of a character that's pretty much universally loved. I mean, c'mon, cynicism aside for a minute, admit it: even if you don't consider yourself a fan of Steve Rogers/Cap, or hate his politics, you at least love the idea of a living American symbol, out there fighting for and inspiring us all. And it puts the leader of the opposition - Iron Man - in the position of looking like the villain that's ultimately responsible for it.

I think there's only two things that kept Marvel from taking a huge hit over Cap's death. One was The Confession, where Iron Man admits that the cost of the war (Cap's death) wasn't worth the victory. It kind of softened the blow a little bit, seeing the leader of the government forces admit that things didn't end like they should have - kind of admitting that he had Cap's blood on his hands. The other thing that kept it from being a huge blow to Marvel was us, the jaded readers, who yeah, were shocked, but then shrugged and said, "So how long before they bring him back?"

What if that hadn't been the case though? What if the death of Captain America had turned fans completely off towards Marvel? What if it had made them hate Iron Man? That simply could not be, and Marvel had to have been planning contingencies for that.

Red and gold government tool

Why? Because Iron Man had been heading towards a movie since 1990, and Cap since 1997. In late 2005, Marvel Studios regained the rights to both properties, and started on their way towards what became Iron Man (I) and Captain America: The First Avenger. The first issue of Civil War came out in May, 2006, which means it was in development months before that, which means Marvel Comics started on Civil War about the same time Marvel Studios started developing these two movies. They had to be thinking about the potential powder keg they could be igniting with fans, killing off Captain America as a result of Civil War, leaving Iron Man to look like a red and gold government tool.

Enter: Iron Maniac

So how do you plan for that possibility? How do you leave yourself open to publish Civil War, but undo it if necessary? This isn't 2005's House of M, happening in an alternate reality, and it's not the coming Secret Invasion of 2008, where everything you didn't like was done by a vile, nasty Skrull. This is 2006, with a super civil war happening on American soil, in regular continuity. My theory is: when in doubt, you go with an old standby, and one of the oldest standbys is the evil twin. Enter: Iron Maniac.

Or rather, "Re-Enter." Iron Maniac actually first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #2, in January 2005. From Earth-5012, Iron Maniac is an Iron Man in the position of Doctor Doom, trying to take over the world to save it from a power mad Reed Richards. He's defeated in the initial story arc, is imprisoned by SHIELD, and isn't seen again until Marvel Team-Up #22, September 2006 - the same month that Civil War #4 was released. Both titles would end three issues later, but Marvel Team-Up would take three months to release those three issues, while Civil War would take six. So MTU #25 came out in December 2006, while CW #7 came out February 2007.

Now, are all those numbers really necessary? Oh yeah. You see, Marvel Team-Up was one of the only titles not participating in Civil War. It was by itself, over on the side, developing it's final few issues, with this evil twin of Tony Stark as the villain. In that time, Tony Stark visits Anthony Stark/ Iron Maniac on the SHIELD Helicarrier, although Anthony is supposedly drugged into submission during that time, unaware of the visit. Anthony later escapes, having immunized himself against the gas being used to sedate him.

Remember: Civil War was a risk for Marvel. It came out monthly for the first three issues, but there was a month between each issue for the rest of the series. This gave time for the rest of the Marvel titles to get their CW tie-ins finished, certainly, but it also allowed Marvel to have time to gauge reader reactions to the events of Civil War. Had the prevailing mood been against them, they could have either tweaked the ending to the MTU series, or post-MTU, they could have retroactively found a way to say that Anthony Stark switched places with Tony Stark during that initial visit, with some explanation from between the panels of that story. They could have also said that the "Anthony" who later escaped was Tony, immune to the gas either because his 616 physiology wasn't quite the same as Anthony's 5012 physiology, or because he had designed the gas for SHIELD and immunized himself against it as a precaution. From there, they end the Civil War in much the same way, but reveal that it's Iron Maniac who did all the reprehensible things attributed to Iron Man, not Iron Man himself.

Captain America #25 - Death of Captain America

It's sort of a win-win for Marvel, because they get the shock ending of Cap's death, but also the shock reveal that Iron Man is not actually Iron Man. Also, much the same as fans were suddenly scrambling for copies of Captain America #25 to go with their Civil War issues, they may have created a similar fervor for the MTU issues that featured Iron Maniac. As far as sales are concerned, if Iron Maniac was a contingency plan for negative reaction to Civil War, Marvel had protected themselves, insuring that no matter what, they were going to make money somewhere. The possibility of Iron Maniac being the bad guy for Civil War would have also deflected any negative fan reaction to the character, further strengthening fan anticipation for the release of the Iron Man (I) movie in May of 2008.

Why didn't they go that route? Maybe because it would have made Tony seem like a weak victim to have been switched by Iron Maniac. One lesson Marvel should have learned by now is that their evil twins have an odd tendency to overshadow their heroes in popularity (see: Venom, Vengeance, Sabretooth, or Red Hulk). So maybe they didn't want to take the chance that Iron Maniac would eclipse Iron Man in popularity, just a year or so before the release of their first Iron Man movie. And if they had put him in that kind of spotlight - to say he had acted in Tony Stark's stead during Civil War - he very well may have. Maybe they equated low sales on Marvel Team-Up as unpopularity for the characters involved. If the reappearance of Iron Maniac couldn't save MTU from cancellation, then he couldn't save them if fan reaction to Civil War plummeted.

More likely, it was because they didn't need to. Fan reaction was great to Civil War (but negative to Cap's death not being in CW, instead being unannounced in the pages of Captain America). The Confession did kind of redeem Iron Man from being the jerk victor of Civil War, and the eventual return of Captain America made it a moot point anyway. And of course, Iron Man (I) and Captain America: The First Avenger were both smash hits in the theater. So in the end, Marvel won all the way around.

Still, it seems to me they had left themselves a back door, in the character of Iron Maniac. What do you think? Was he their scapegoat, in case fans turned against Civil War? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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12-Month Trades #6: "Manhunter, Vol. 1-2"

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12-Month Trades is where I'd like to see the whole run of something in trade paperbacks, a year of issues at a time. Think of these as sort of like Marvel's Classic trades: no frills with the names - just the title and a volume number, and that's it.

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This time around, I'm looking at Manhunter (1988). Manhunter as a character name is a cool concept, and it's been through several incarnations at DC. For me, the story of Paul Kirk is the best, the Kate Spencer series was okay, but the series with Mark Shaw had some awesome potential. If a comic book hero is measured by his villains, then we need a huge unit of measure for Shaw, because Dumas is one of the coolest. The original Dumas was an assassin on par with Deathstroke, and Manhunter wisely began and ended the series with him (although what Dumas becomes would surprise you).

Aside from Dumas, Shaw didn't really have a regular rogues gallery, because the Mark Shaw Manhunter was a bounty hunter, so he was supposed to be constantly chasing the next villain, including Captain Cold, Count Vertigo, and Catman. Unfortunately for the series, it was caught up in the Invasion! event (three official issues, and two unofficial aftermath stories), then had a break where he fought Catman (who was not the fan favorite then that he is now), and then had a one issue part in The Janus Directive (a story arc I think deserves its own TPB). After all that, it limped along a few issues into its final story arc, Saints and Sinners (a last hurrah with the return of Dumas, that also deserves its own TPB).

For all of those negatives, Shaw's struggles with Dumas hold up this entire series for me. Although Paul Kirk could easily be brought back in spectacular fashion, his story had a definite ending. Kate Spencer, although I liked her, just kind of seemed like Huntress-lite to me. I think that Mark Shaw has the most potential for comeback, especially since developments in the Kate series have given Shaw tenous connections to Azrael (and, oh-ho, the Order of St Dumas), nevermind his original connections to the secretive, robot Manhunters. I think this series should be collected in its entirety, for the express purpose of reaquainting fans with this character, in preparation for a comeback. That might just be a dream on my part, but it's good to dream.

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Proposed Title:Manhunter, Vol. 1.
TPB Cover:M #1.
Collecting 12 Issues:Manhunter (1988) #1-12.

Covers (click to enlarge):

............

I'd use the cover to #1 for the TPB cover, just because it's a nice character shot, and it reminds me of the style of the Invincible TPB covers.

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Proposed Title:Manhunter, Vol. 2.
TPB Cover:M #24.
Collecting 12 Issues:Manhunter (1988) #13-24.

Covers (click to enlarge):

............

For the Volume 2 cover, I'd be tempted to go with #13 or #17, just because they show Catman & Batman, respectively, but I always feel like that's a cheat, when the teaser character isn't in a majority of the story. So here, I'd go with either #18, or #24. My preference is #24, because the end of Manhunter is pretty much what most of this half of the series is about.

So what do you think? Would you want to read the story of Mark Shaw, Manhunter?

Would you buy this series, if it were reprinted in TPB? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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Would U Buy It #77: "ACP: Dial 'H' For Hero, Vol. 2"

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7703/21/12Adv Coms Pres: Dial 'H' For Hero, Vol. 2(Blog) (Forum)Dial H For Hero(Back) (Next)

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:Adventure Comics Presents: Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 2.
Alternate Title:Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 2.
Collecting 23 Issues:New Adventures of Superboy #28-49 (Dial H back-ups only), #50 (full issue).
Covers: (click to enlarge)
TPB Cover: Original Cover.

When Dial "H" For Hero ended its run in Adventure Comics, it showed up 2 months later, teaming up with Superman in DC Comics Presents #44, and backing up The New Adventures of Superboy, starting in #28. Chris King & Vicki Grant ran all the way through to #49, where the writers wrapped things up very nicely, connecting Chris & Vicki's dials to the original H-Dial, giving that H-Dial to Nick Stevens, and showing us that previous Dialer Robby Reed had been in the background of this series all along. Sockamagee!

To top all that, the next issue of New Adventures of Superboy gave us a story where Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes had to deal with a 30th century crook who stole one of the H-Dials from a museum and travelled back in time, finding a way to dial "V" for villain. It was a nice full circle moment, as this version of Dial H was first previewed in Legion of Super-Heroes #272. The back-ups provided some favorites in Miss Hourglass, Great Jupiter, Naiad (a name DC reused later), the Disc Jockey, Circumference, and a whole load of villains that Chris & Vicki fought in the final tale of this run.

I'd go with the title Adventure Comics Presents: Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 2, just to be consistent with my previous TPB suggestion of ACP: Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 1. I couldn't remember if the back-ups were eight or sixteen pages, but if they were eight, this volume would come in somewhere between 190 to 200 pages, but I think it would be well worth it to collect it all in one volume. If they were sixteen pages each, then two volumes would be necessary, and I would simply add a Vol. 3 to this suggestion.

For the cover, these Superboy covers just won't do. An original cover would be necessary.

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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Would U Buy It #76: "ACP: Dial 'H' For Hero, Vol. 1"

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We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:

Adventure Comics Presents: Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 1. (couldn't fit all of that in the title bar)

Alternate Title:Dial "H" For Hero, Vol. 1.
Collecting 14 Issues:
  • Legion of Super-Heroes (1980) #272
  • Adventure Comics (1935) #479-490
  • DC Comics Presents (1978) #44
Covers: (click to enlarge)
TPB Cover: Adventure Comics #482

When DC released the Dial "H" For Hero preview in LSH #272, in late 1980 (remember, cover dates were perpetually two months ahead back then), I was ecstatic. New Teen Titans was just getting started and already red hot, and DC was pushing their other teen team under readers' noses by enticing them with a free preview of the Dial "H" feature about to come out in Adventure Comics. The preview (and Wildfire on the cover) convinced me to convince mom to buy it for me (hey, I was ten, okay?), and I was immediately enchanted with the concept of Chris King & Vicki Grant being able to dial up identity after identity. Adventure Comics was a must have all the way through the Dial H For Hero run.

The unique thing about this run of Dial H (as opposed to the previous Robby Reed run, which was unknown to me at the time) was that the heroes, villains, and even some of the clothes, were all created by fans - and all they got for it was an "I Dialed 'H' For Hero" T-shirt. Man, I wanted one of those shirts so bad! Some personal favorites of mine were The Evil Eight (particularly The Familiar), Thunder Axe, Blakjack, Dragonfly, The Emerald Tiger, and... aw, heck, I loved 'em all! Especially the DCCP issue where Chris dials "H-O-R-R-O-R" just for fun, and Superman has to help stop him!

For the cover, I think I'd go with issue #482. It shows Chris & Vicki dialing, then changing, then flying away as two heroes. I actually kind of prefer issue #479, but the pile of fan mail in the middle wouldn't make any sense, once the cover blurbs are removed from the picture.

Abyss
Squid

It might seem like a silly concept, but guess what? DC has reused a slew of these names, including: Arsenal, Kismet, Wildebeest, Ice, Echo, Silver Fog, and Brimstone. Also, you may have seen the Dial H Sneak Peak thread, which leads to this article over on io9. Down there at the bottom? The Squid and The Abyss, from right there on the cover of Adventure Comics #490. That's right: the New 52 series coming up in the Second Wave, Dial H, is bringing characters back from this series. I think this feature deserves to be collected just for that reason if nothing else, but it was also pure fun! ...And it was continued in New Adventures of Superboy #28-49 (and a connected story in #50). So...

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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12-Month Trades #5: "Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew,V.1-2"

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Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!

Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew was just pure fun, and in 1982, came at a good time in DC history. Introduced in a preview in the then red hot New Teen Titans book, the Crew started off meeting Superman, and ended up meeting Changeling (aka Gar Logan, Beast Boy). Post-series, they had a bizarre crossover with Oz and Wonderland, and then weren't seen again until years later, when Kid Devil was reading a comic about them in the Teen Titans, closely followed by Captain Carrot & the Final Ark!. They were just in time for the height of the multiple earths confusion, giving us the Crew on Earth C, and an animal JLA (Just'a Lotta Animals) on Earth C- (C Minus)!

The team included: Captain Carrot (fun fact: he was originally named Roger Rabbit, but the Disney movie caused DC to change it to Rodney Rabbit), Fastback, Yankee Poodle, Rubberduck, Pig-Iron (the super identity of wayback DC star, Peter Porkchops), Alley-Kat-Abra, and eventually Little Cheese. They fought some fun characters like Frogzilla, Mudd, the Wuz-Wolf, and the Time-Keeper, and fought alongside some old comic greats, like The Terrific Whatzit and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. This series deserves a full color collection, as it was a whole lot of fun, and would probably be just as much fun today.

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Proposed Title:Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew, Vol. 1-2.
Vol. 1 Collecting 12 Issues:
  • New Teen Titans #16 (preview only)
  • Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew #1-11
Vol. 2 Collecting 12 Issues:
  • Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew #12-20
  • The Oz-Wonderland War #1-3
Covers: (click to enlarge)
Vol 1 TPB Cover: Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew #1

For the Volume 1 cover, I'd go with issue #1, with the Zoo Crew busting in to save Superman. It's a good team shot, and reminds us that yes, they really were part of the larger DC Universe.

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Vol 2 TPB Cover: Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew #20

For the Volume 2 cover, I'd go with #20, the final issue. It's one of the better team shots in this grouping of covers, and with Changeling (Beast Boy) on the cover, it again reminds us that these cute and furry crimefighters were part of the fun that is the DC Universe.

Would you buy this series, if it were reprinted in TPB? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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12-Month Trades #4: "Sovereign Seven, Vol. 1-3"

#DateWelcome to 12-MT #4:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
403/15/12Sovereign Seven, Vol. 1-3(Blog) (Forum)Sovereign Seven(Back) (Next)
Sovereign Seven (aka S7)

What's cool about the Sovereign Seven series is that it was a creator owned book set in the DCU. It deserves to be collected in its entirety for that distinction alone. I don't know how he did it, but Chris Claremont somehow convinced DC to let him bring his own toys to their sandbox. The Sovereign Seven were a group of interstellar princes and princesses, banded together against a common threat, who of course wound up on Earth. They rollicked around the DCU, meeting the likes of the Female Furies, Batman, Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman, Impulse, even Hitman, and late into the series, added DC character Power Girl to their team. The team was also part of The Final Night, and their annuals were included in both Year One and Legends of the Dead Earth. Claremont left himself a very simple out, and when he was done playing in the DCU, he took his S7 and went home, a good time having been had by all.

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Proposed Title:Sovereign Seven, Vol. 1-2.
Vol. 1 Collecting 14 Issues:
  • Sovereign Seven #1-12
  • Sovereign Seven Annual #1
  • Showcase '95 #12
Vol. 2 Collecting 13 Issues:
  • Sovereign Seven #13 -24
  • Sovereign Seven Plus Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Vol. 3 Collecting 13 Issues:
  • Sovereign Seven Annual #2
  • Sovereign Seven #25 -36
Covers: (click to enlarge)
Vol 1 TPB Cover: Sovereign Seven #1

Volume One is really 13+ issues, not quite 14, as Showcase '95 was an anthology book, and S7 was only featured in one of the issue's stories. I'd use the cover to #1 for the cover to this volume, minus the shiny cover enhancements, because it shows the whole team.

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Vol 2 TPB Cover: Sovereign Seven #15

There are three candidates for cover to the Volume Two TPB: Sovereign Seven #15 or 18, or S7 + LSH #1. Personally, I'd go with #15. I like #18 because it shows the whole team again, but I think it features Cascade too prominently over the other members. The S7/LSH cover would be just to draw the attention of Legion fans, and my only real reason for considering it is for sales reasons. I always feel like it's a little shady to use a cover like that for a collection though - in this case, because the Legion is only featured in one issue of the thirteen collected in the book. Which brings me back to #15, with headshots of the whole team.

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Vol 3 TPB Cover: Sovereign Seven #36

For this collection, the cover to S7 Annual #2 is a nice shot of the team, except that it doesn't include Power Girl. Since she's a member of the team from #25 to #36, I'd go with the cover to #36 as the cover to the collection, since it shows the whole team, including her. The cover to #27 is tempting, just because it features Hitman, but again, that seems a little shady, since he's only featured in one issue of the book.

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There was one Sovereign Seven TPB in 1996, which collected S7 #1-5, S7 Annual #1, and Showcase '95 #12. It is currently out of print. The rest of the series remains uncollected.

Would you buy this series, if it were reprinted in TPB? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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Why I Still Don't Love the New 52

#DateWelcome to my blog:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
3003/09/12Why I Still Don't Love the New 52(Blog) (Forum)DC Comics(Back) (Next)

I haven't liked the idea of the New 52 from the beginning, and waited until it had been rolling for 4 months, before picking up anything. I've picked up several #1's at this point, and I haven't been all that impressed. I liked Nightwing enough to add it to my list, but really, that's only because I collected the previous series. I'm interested to read the Huntress TPB, but that's only after reading about the mini-series on Comicvine. I've picked up first issues of favorite characters and teams, but haven't seen anything to stand up and cheer about. I'd like to see Blackhawks succeed, just because I've always wanted to see that concept reinvented enough to appeal to a new audience. I don't know if this book is going to do that or not, but I'm glad to see the attempt.

Overall though, I think DC is working against themselves. What works for the Big Two is that there is years and years of history to their characters, readers feel like they know them, and keep coming back to see and learn more about their favorite characters. What works against newer companies like Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite (although they've been around awhile now, they are still newer than DC & Marvel) is the lack of history or cohesive universe. Even though some of their books are excellent, they suffer, because the companies have to manufacture "history," by introducing new characters that "have been around since World War II." If they cannot successfully make the average superhero reader buy into that, then those readers are left feeling like they are reading about someone they don't know, whose history feels fake.

DC has done that with this reboot. With COIE & Zero Hour, even though they reinvented the characters after both of those events, there was always some carryover, and a question of just how much had really changed. There's NO question with the New 52 - things have changed, and these are not the characters we knew. Superman - our "strange visitor from another planet" - is now just a "stranger visiting from another planet." Batman's history supposedly remains untouched, but there's already problems with that, because how old is he in relation to the rest of the JLA? If Dick is an adult, and still fought beside Batman as Robin, then was he still a Teen Titan? How does that work when Cyborg's history is being rewritten for him to have joined the JLA? If Dick was still a Teen Titan, then the rest of the original team are also adults, and that means their mentors should be older than them, and more established as heroes - not just now forming the Justice League, pretty much unknown to each other. There are already things that don't make sense here, and I don't think that's going to get better.

Imagine that someone close to you has been in an accident, and goes to the hospital. When you go to see them, they don't remember you at all, and they can't do anything about it except move forward. So now, all of your memories of them, while still important to you, are invalid as far as this person is concerned, because they are just not the same person. You might still love them, because they are the same person, but if the doctor told you that there was no hope this person was going to get their original memories back and be the person you knew, you would have to have the patience of a saint to stay with them, even though they are, for all intents and purposes, a new person. It's still possible though, because in real life, they really are the same person.

That's not so here, in the New 52. They did this in the 1960's, rebooting the characters from the name - reinventing everything. They changed the costumes, the histories, the locations, the supporting casts, everything. It wasn't until older fans started saying, "What about the original Superman/Flash/Green Lantern/etc," that DC introduced the Golden Age characters, via Earth 2. That's almost what they've done here, except they've kept the characters' looks (in most cases). It's that "keeping the look" that is going to work against them most, because no matter how much they change the story, and no matter how good the new story is, there will still be people saying, "But he still looks like Superman, so when is [missing story element x] coming back?"

From the first solicitations, I wasn't interested in the New 52. I thought the new concepts sounded boring. I was truly shocked to find that after thirty-five years of collecting, I had absolutely zero interest in this reboot. I finally gave them a chance, because well, that's what's here - may as well see if there's something I can like about it. The answer was yes, there is, but honestly, it's not with the same level of investment I had in the previous characters. It's hard to be vested in clones - they have the same look, the same name, but not the same history. The only way to do that is to enjoy them from here, and hope that they turn out to be interesting, like their namesakes were.

Especially when you don't know for sure if this is really going to be permanent. I mean, Marvel said Heroes Reborn was going to be permanent too, but flipped on that pretty quickly. Will DC do the same, and undo Flashpoint? Or will they try to find a way to meld the best elements of the old and new? At the moment, I remain unconvinced that this is permanent. Part of this change was certainly to create 52 new first issues, throwing these ideas against the wall of readers, and seeing what sticks. The stuff that didn't they scrape up off the sidewalk and cart away, and replace with another new idea for us to try. I don't think that makes for a sustainable new universe, and it kind of feels like babysitters trying to entertain a crying baby. "Look! Look! Deadman!... No? Okay, okay, look, Hawk & Dove!... No? Okay, Aquaman! Oh, you like Aquaman? Good, good, how 'bout Deathstroke? Aw, c'mon, don't cry. Look, look, Wonder Woman!..."

The biggest change by far is Superman, and that seems to have an awful lot to do with the fact that they have to change some of the original elements by 2013, due to the lawsuit that nobody wants to talk about and wishes would go away. I would venture a guess that whether or not the New 52 remains new canon or not depends largely on whether DC can finally convince the creators' families to give up their interests in the character, so they can go back to Superman's original roots. If not, then look for the changes in Superman and the rest of the New 52 to remain, and try to see if there's something you can like about it. For now, I don't feel completely convinced this is going to work, but as a fan of comics as a whole, I certainly remain willing to be wrong.

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Hate the Rainbow

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2902/22/12Hate the Rainbow(Blog) (Forum) (List)Sinestro Corps(Back) (Next)

I. Hate. The. Rainbow. Lantern. Corps. It is one of the dumbest concepts I have ever seen, and it dilutes some of the best villains in comics. Seriously...

Black Lanterns - These guys were marginally okay, and a curiosity to me, because almost twenty years ago, a comic loving coworker had suggested to me that Black Lanterns would be kick-ass villains. I kind of blew the idea off, because who needs another color power ring, but I did find GL #150 with a cover showing guys with black power rings, and gave it to him. Never thought I'd see something like Blackest Night. Still, it was basically an excuse for DC zombie covers, and it didn't seem that threatening. And now a White Lantern can negate them. Very odd.

Blue Lanterns - like Game Genie for Green Lanterns

Blue Lanterns are useless. Their only power is to augment Green Lanterns, kind of like the Game Genie for the Nintendo, and yet, Blue L's are hardly ever around.

Indigo Lanterns (Indigo Tribe, actually) are too busy being written as mysterious - I consider them to be the Phantom Strangers of the Corps - they don't really do much when they're around, yet viewed by all as very powerful.

Red Lanterns are...well...they're just kind of gross, frankly. I don't really want to read a comic that centers around a guy who pukes blood as a power. Why do people think this is cool?

Orange Lantern - His power is that he can't share

Orange Lanterns. Their power is greed? There is only one orange ring, and only the greediest can keep it. And that power is focused to what end? Again, kind of a useless color for the rainbow of corps.

Green Lanterns - the name has never made sense to me, except in connection to Alan Scot, but I love the GL Corps. Their power is their will, and that makes sense - a strong will is needed in a hero, if he's going to face evil. So no problem, Green Lanterns.

Violet Lanterns are the Star Sapphires. Really? When Carol Ferris was the only Star Sapphire, she was fearsome, and there was apparently only one Star Sapphire. And it was hers, because her looks made her queen of an entire alien race - Zamarons. Granted, Carol's sole purpose with the gem seemed to be to get GL to marry her (stupid Sixties), and she never made use of the fact that she commanded an entire race of space amazons to any cool ends, like invading Earth, or out-cookie-baking the Girl Scouts. But the potential was there. Now, because Carol was always smitten with GL, the SS Corps' purpose is love - nevermind that the queen of the love corps was a villainess, which doesn't send a very loving message. So thanks for effing up Star Sapphire, Blackest Night.

Sinestro was ONE guy, and an entire corps - 3600 strong - were AFRAID of him

Last, the Sinestro Corps...this should probably be a separate blog, but here goes. WHY is there an entire corps of these guys? Is it “Sinestro was fearsome, so an entire corps with the same power is even more fearsome?” Fail. Epic, cosmic, universal fail. Sinestro was fearsome because he was just. one. guy. One guy with a yellow power ring, and an army of ringslingers, 3600 strong, were AFRAID of him. THAT is a cool villain: One guy, one ring, one of a kind, all cool. But now that’s the Orange Lantern and his power of greed. Ooo, greed - his power is that he can't share. And Sinestro is a good guy now? And not “the last of the Green Lanterns,” or “the best of the Green Lanterns,” just “one of 7200 Green Lanterns” (because TWO guys to an entire space sector makes WAY more sense than just ONE). So not only did they dilute him by making an entire yellow corps, but they neutered him by putting him back in the GLC. It’s an interesting idea, because fans are curious to see how ruthless of a hero he’ll be – perhaps a more brutal enforcer of the green will than the guy with the goofy green hands of yesteryear. But face it, what everyone is really waiting for is the inevitable moment that Sinestro goes bad again.

And P.S., the reason it was called the Sinestro Corps, instead of the Yellow Lantern Corps, like all the other colors, is because Yellow Lantern could only evoke memories of the Bizarro GL, from the golden days of Bizarro World, and as much as I loved that character, nobody could take a corps with that name seriously.

Rainbow Raider - Time for a comeback!

Also, whatever happened to Mongul’s search for a ring of each color? They were clearly heading in an Infinity Gauntlet direction with him and the rings, and that seemed to just die out and go nowhere. Mongul’s search for one ring of each color seemed to be the ultimate destination of the Rainbow Corps idea. Not that I thought it was a good idea, but if you’re going to put it out there, follow through. Maybe they could revisit this idea, bringing about the deadly revamp of a long lost villain: Rainbow Raider!

You Red Lanterns wander off over that way and die.

There was some beautiful artwork to come out of the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, but that was about it. The Rainbow Corps is a bad, bad, bad idea, and I have yet to see a payoff to it. The only value to redundant characters (i.e. an entire corps with the same powers) is if one character doesn’t work, you can replace them with another character and put a different spin on it, via their viewpoints and motivations. That’s worked with the Green Lanterns for many years, but the villains should not be so easily replaceable. Great villains are not interchangeable villains. Interchangeable villains are called "henchmen," or in a more common lingo, “red shirts.” Hm, maybe “red lanterns” has a use after all.

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