"Mischaracterization" of Cyclops: AvX

I'm gonna flat out say it, I've never been a fan of Cyclops. From the various cartoons, to the movies, to most of the comics I've read with him, not once has he ever appealed to me. Now i realized he has a fan base, and a number of defenders for all his actions, but really, I just don't get his appeal. And the further I dig into him, the more I just say "screw that guy". But this isn't about that (well, not entirely).

This is about the new Marvel event, "Avengers Vs. X-men". And I'll preface this by saying issue one was... alright. Nothing special, nothing I'm interested in following. But having read the book myself, and having read many reviews about it from various sources, the general consensus is that he's being written as way too extreme, almost like a fascist, driven and consumed by a singular purpose. And from what various people have said, I gather most people are saying he's being poorly written, and that he's not meant to be done like that.

But really, I feel that's pretty much exactly how he's always been: A massive dick. It doesn't matter if you think different... you're wrong.

Let's wind back the clock to the first volume of X-Factor. In this, the original 5 X-men have left the school because Magneto is now running things and Storm is leading the team. Jean Grey had recently passed away as a result of the Phoenix Force and Cyclops has unknowingly married a clone of Jean Grey (just roll with it) and had a son, Nathan Summers, and are now living in Alaska. Angel messages Scott to come see him at his company, where he reveals that for some convoluted reason or another, Jean Grey has come back to life. Now this leaves Cyclops with a dilemma: How does he explain to Jean he's now married with a child, how does he resolve his feelings? Who does he choose? How does he live with this? Certainly, as a hero, he'll make the right decision, and do the heroic thing fitting for a protagonist.

Wrong. He stays with the newly reborn Jean Grey for a few months, doesn't tell her he's married with a kid, and doesn't tell his family what he's doing or where he is. The rest of the team seems cool with this, for some reason. Ultimately, his lies are discovered (Don't lie to a psychic, dick) and he returns to find his wife and kid are gone, possibly dead. His wife becomes a villain years later, and Rob Liefeld turns his son into Cable, giving us enough crappy 90's stories to last us for years, all the way to Avengers X-Sanction.

But, you may ask, certainly such a huge event in his life will at least give him some angst or pathos, haunting him for years to come? Like how Hank Pym felt such guilt over what he did with his wife and the Ultron?

Of course not. Marvel may have been stupid enough to green light this, but they smartened up enough to realize making one of their flagship protagonists a dead-beat husband wouldn't sit well, so it was nicely swept away, and is only awkwardly half mentioned on occasion. Our hero, everybody.

And, unfortunately, this sort of thing kinda set the tone for future x-books. From constantly butting heads with Wolverine, to hooking up with Emma Frost over his wife's grave, to sending children to battle in Schism, Cyclops has always been plagued with actions that for the most part the fans can agree are pretty deep into the shades of grey (no pun intended). Each time, future author's try to sweep these things under the rug, avoiding mention to his track record of dickery as much as possible, but each time it's still there, it's still canon, and like it or not people will remember.

Now sure, Astonishing X-men helped make him a much more interesting character, and actually made him seem much more pathetic than he normally appears, introducing to us the idea that he was only made leader because Professor X felt sorry for him, as nothing about him was noteworthy. This was a stroke of brilliance, in my opinion, and addressed why people felt he was so boring while at the same time making him sympathetic. We can relate to not being special in many things we do, and Marvel is all about relateable characters. We also see that despite this, he's still a capable and effective leader trying to do the right thing, which is what makes him a hero. This is the closest thing to a redemption he's ever gotten, and even though his name is forever sullied, he's at least more understandable.

Of course, this new dimension to his personality was quickly forgotten thanks to the decimation, and now he's left as the cold douchebag that's so divisive nowadays. We never really got a chance to see this revelation used, because now he's been forced into being the guy who has to make tough decisions, and is now an "end justifies the means" character.

Now there's nothing really wrong with this, but I still can't help but feel this character is always being made into the bad guy. In fact, I feel he's being turned into the Strawman of the X-books. Much like how Tony Stark and Reed Richards we're made into such evil men during Civil War because Marvel writers, like all artists, are for the most part 90% liberals, and therefore their Republican stand-ins are meant to be wrong, Cyclops is meant to represent the well meaning but disastrous methods of dealing with the possibility of extinction.

This really makes total sense when you apply this theory to cyclops. Let's face it, the rivalry between him and Wolverine has always been a huge point in X-books, but at the same time Wolverine is massively popular among fans and writers, so when Schism happened, you knew that Logan was meant to represent the "Correct" choice, even if you agreed with Scott.

And so, especially after reading AvX, I've come to a conclusion about the character: He's not being mischaracterized, he's being made into a villain! he's been built up for over 25 years now as probably the most likable X-man ever, he's trying to control the Phoenix force with no respect to Hope's feelings or wishes, he's so intense and single-minded that he's becoming the next Magneto!

In the end, like it or not, I think that's the direction they are going. I won't spoil AvX if you haven't read it, but I will say that Brian Bendis has made it quite clear that Avengers Vs X-men isn't going to be about picking a side, it's made as obvious as possible that the Avengers are in the right. As such, Cyclops is going to either become full blown evil, be martyred, or be redeemed by the end of the arc. It's been set up, it fit's with the characters current mind set and motivations, and, above all, Cyclops is a huge dick. And that's going upset Cyclops fans, I know. But that's life. You don't control Marvel, Quesada and Brian Michael Bendis do. And at this point I don't think anything you say will change that.

50 Comments

My thoughts on Wonder Woman and the Amazons new history

So, I've gotten into some arguments lately over the changes done to Wonder Woman, which has proven to be somewhat controversial. I've heard many thoughts and opinions from reviews to commentors, to this article found on DC women Kicking Ass http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/19704793909/ww7 and ultimately, and I may be wrong or missing something, people seem to be upset over two things.

One, that the change is somehow sexist, and Two, that the change is done to the detriment of the source material (in other words, pre-flashpoint Wonder Woman).

So, to get my thoughts out of the way, I'm alright with the change. Like it or not, a huge part of the basis for Wonder Woman is greek mythology, and that's really what sets Diana apart from the other heroes. Diana, represents a feminine strength, the abilities of a warrior mixed with the strengths of compassion and love, things often seen as womanly. But really, that basically makes her a female Superman with slightly tweaked values. And considering how similar their power set is, it's not hard to see how she borders on generic, if it weren't for her origins and stories tied to myths from the antiquity, which helped set her apart, especially in Post-crisis era DC. So focusing more on these roots is probably the best thing to do if you want fresh stories.

Now, the thing about Wonder Woman, as I've said repeatedly, is that she's not a popular character. She's a well known character. Her stuff has never been able to sell as much as big names like Green Lantern and Batman, and instead her longevity comes from new readers picking up a name that's familiar to them, and the decent amount of fans she collects on her own merit. Thing is, the reboot was meant to boost sales in a floundering industry, so big name characters moved along without getting changed around, some more confusing characters, such as the Flash, getting a clean up (at the expense of Wally West, but that's another rant) and those that never found proper footing, but still had good brand power, like Superman and Wonder Woman, had key changes made to their status quo while preserving a good chunk of their previous life. And this isn't the first time this has happened to her, since her setting and origins have changed drastically dozens of times in 70 years in an effort to keep readers interested, since again she never held the same popularity as the rest of the A-list heroes.

Now, for the most part, Brian Azzarello chose not to change too much about the amazons, but instead focused on showing how they really are far darker than they let on. The clay origin was still present, but it was revealed to be a cover-up. They still had contact with the gods. And, lastly, they did in fact give birth to males, except now they had to get rid of them, who Hephaestus was glad to help by taking them off their hands. Not only that, since men aren't allowed on their island, they played the role of Succubi, seducing men on boats and killing them when the deed was done.

First of all, I'd be lying if I said the murder orgy didn't make me slightly uncomfortable (especially since it doesn't explain how wonder woman only learned about this after growing up with the Amazons), but in the end, it ties in together with the original greek stories of the amazons, and like it or not, that's where the very concept of these characters came from. Don't blame Brian Azzarello for this, blame William Marston for not doing his research and associating the character with a brutal part of greek mythology, which allowed for this darkness to happen.

This new origin adds new conflict with Diana's firm moral code, and also is another piece of the puzzle for this story, as we see how the amazons interacted with the many gods throughout her world. It makes the stories more interesting, and provides some emotional moments. So great job there.

But that still doesn't answer if the change is detrimental to the Amazons as characters defined by previous Wonder Woman stories, so here's all I really got to say: They've always been a warrior society, and stories like amazons attack, even though it was bad, prove that they are capable of brutal things, so it's nothing really that far out of the blue.

But that leads us to the issue of whether or not it's sexist, since the Amazons have always been portrayed as the perfect matriarchal, feminist society, and I've got to say, I don't think it is. Azzarello is only using source material that the story itself is rooted on, not making up a new one, and these legends have existed for thousands of years. Really he's just exposing an uncomfortable truth about this seemingly idealistic society, that an island that does not allow men to be part of it probably isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

It is far more sexist to assume that the complete removal of a certain gender creates Utopia. I'm sick of hearing how men cause all the problems in the world. Guess what? History is full of awful women also. Just look at Margaret Thatcher. The fact is that it is equally sexist to create a society where men are not allowed or have no power, as much as it would be if the genders were reversed and it was an isle of men, where women weren't allowed and had no power. This new story shows that dark side. Really, he just followed the current trend of making things more realistic.

Now, I'm not saying that women NEED men. HELL NO. THAT is sexist. I'm saying that a culture that rejects men based on the fact that they are men is incredibly sexist on principle, it's just that the roles are reversed. And discrimination in any form usually creates huge problems. When it's culture wide, there's gonna be blood.

Now, there is one issue that I can't really argue with, and that is the fact that people still liked the old mythology, that the Amazons are less sisterly and communal than before, and that the men just simply weren't born, instead of forcibly removed or killed off.

Really, that is what's going to throw you off if you're a huge fan of those themes, and it comes down to if you preferred the old over the new, and it's fine if you don't. But in the end, Wonder Woman was always a series that never found firm footing. Things were changed constantly because, quite simply, there never has been the same interest in her as other characters, and she never had cult popularity like even B or C list characters might have had.

If you like the character as a concept, her personality is still all there, it's just a new environment to see her react to. I like the new stories, I find them to be far superior to past Wonder Woman, and I'm gonna keep reading. Just don't throw out words or complaints that are unfounded. If you don't like them, then you don't like them. But don't pretend like it's a great blaspheme against the character, because I don't feel it is.

6 Comments

How Suicide Squad is treating Harley Quinn

Now, I'm gonna give credit where credit is due here, and say that I don't necessarily believe that Suicide Squad is a bad book. In fact, I think it has some good writing and some great points to it, one highlight being how manipulative the Joker is as opposed to the first origin given in the old DCU. Just so people get where I stand because they're too lazy too read this whole post and whine about how they like the series, this isn't about whether it's good or not. That said, this is going to be a negative critique of the book, specifically on a few things that they have changed that I feel damages several notable characters, with extra focus on one of my favorite villains, Harley Quinn.

First of all, let me just state that I admittedly did not like her new design. Like at all. I was one of the many outraged over this, simply because I didn't feel her original costume needed much change in the first place. Honestly it felt like they were trying to make it more sexual and provocative (for obvious reasons), but I don`t think Harley needed that. Her original skin tight jester outfight was sexy in it's own right, and it was made all the better because it didn't focus on shoving boobs into our face all the time, instead using more subtlety. Changing the design made it much more generic, since someone like the Joker wouldn't care how much cleavage she has on display, he would probably go for the chaotic/clowny motif he has for himself.

But I was able to over look that, since if I got mad every time DC turned one of their characters into a sex doll, I wouldn't be reading much of them anymore. and so I gave the first issue it's fair look and... it was okay at best. A bit torture porn-y at times, but nothing offensive. While reading reviews I saw a bunch of comments about how it was taking the place of Simone's Secret Six (which I have read since then, and the two shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath) but honestly it just wasn't the story for me, so I moved past it.

Then a few months later I read a cracked article which mentioned Amanda Waller, who had appeared in Suicide Squad, and points out how sexist her appearance was. Looking her up, I learned she was the tough, cruel head of the Squad, one who had enough balls to curse Batman out TO HIS FACE, and did all that while being the rarest sight in comics : An overweight colored woman who wasn't used for laughs or pity. Which is like seeing Bigfoot troll across your front lawn in this industry. And reading back on Suicide Squad number 1, I saw that when they introduced her in the reboot, she had dropped a good 100 pounds and the panel she was in put great focus on her tits. A lot of comic readers like to say things defending sexism in comics, from claiming it's fantasy, insert characters or "what sells", or at least insinuate males who dislike seeing these things to be "gay faggots" (I for one take offense to the idea that I will buy anything with tits stamped on it, or that being gay is the only reason a man wouldn't wan't to see naked women constantly), but there's no defense for this. At all.

But again, I was not an Amanda Waller fan, so while I was annoyed by this, I could hardly waste my energy being outraged by a character I never was invested in, so I let it go.

The series went on, and with Issue #6 I read a review on IGN praising the series for how it handled Harley's new origins, and so I decided to read through the back catalog to get caught up and then read the issue. And I can't deny the story thus far was not that bad, and the new origin for Harley Quinn was handled spectacularly. Instead of seeming like a naive girl who got sweet talked into loving the Joker, the attraction and interest was done much more psychologically, and really showed how great a manipulator the Joker is, and I cannot praise that origin enough.

That said, I'm only talking about the story right now, which has been good, if not really my cup of tea. The main problem I have with the story is how they are writing Harley Quinn character wise, which... sucks. plain and simple. How so, you may ask?

Well, Harley is meant to be a fun and silly character while doing evil things, and while she does keep that, I find she's being written as if she were a bubbly 9 year old than a jester. Not only that, she's way too overtly sexual (which is really creepy when she sounds like shes an elementary schoolgirl, to me). She full on tries to seduce Deadshot, and while some may argue that she's done this in other incarnations before and she's just being flirtatious, but I don't buy it. At the very least, she's just not subtle with he sexuality, which drags the book down. Sure she's tried seducing people before, but to my memory she wasn't full on climbing on people to do so.

And that brings us to the biggest reason I dislike this new series, which I fully realized after reading Suicide Squad #7. And spoilers, just in case you didn't realize it. What really hurts this series is thato they don't write Harley Quinn as she was intended to be.

She's supposed to represent a victim of abuse.

And before you say anything, I know that one could interpret Joker trying to dump her body into the chemicals as an attempt to kill her, and she just happened to survive. I get that, and it's one of the reasons I feel the origin was so strong (Though I do dislike the fact that it implies that this was the origin of the Joker, whereas Alan Moore has claimed that it's only a possibility in the Joker's mind, and that no one really knows how he started. But that's a nitpick).

I would highly recommend that you all go out and read the One shot Batman Adventures: Mad Love. In it, it explores the original take of Harley Quinn, as written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. What makes this issue the ultimate Harley Quinn story is how tragic it happens to be. Harley Quinn is not simply insane, she just truly loves the Joker, and he manipulates these feelings to get what he wants, plays with her emotions so that no matter what horrible thing he does, she'll come back to him. Even if she fights back and gets away herself (which she had done), ultimately she's still drawn to him, because she feels that's her only option. And that's the driving force behind her character. She's entertaining, but there's such strong sadness to her story that we become attached and sympathetic to her.

Adam Glass just made her crazy. Sure she's in love, and that's made clear, but you never got the idea in this story that she has been trying to escape it and just can't, we're only told that she loves him to the point that she'll put his skinned face on Deadshot and attempt to have sex with him while he wears it. I get they're trying to make it seem like she's breaking down without the support Joker gave her, but really all your left with is a "strong", talented, brilliant woman go insane because of a man, but we never get to see any part of her that looks strong, talented or brilliant (other than the fact she can kill many people easily). We're supposed to be sympathetic to because she's sad that her man died, but besides the fact WE know that the Jokers evil, the feeling that she might be better off without him is missing. You think it, but there is no weight to it.

She lacks depth, I guess is what I'm saying.

Now, I'm not gonna get outraged over this. My complaints about the designs and her current personality can all be fixed later on, but from my perspective it doesn't seem like they're going to so, which saddens me as a Harley Quinn fan. She's supposed to be the giddy henchman, a contrast to the Joker's sadistic insanity, and I don't get that from it. I do have to emphasize that Adam Glass is still a good writer, and if he were to go on to say write stories about the Joker solo, I'd check that out.

I'm really hoping the main issues I have are editorial decisions, since I believe Jim Lee redesigned the costumes, and great though he is he;s not a creator, he's an artist, and that things pick up. But what do you all feel about the new Harley Quinn? Because at this point, I'm just hoping that sooner rather than later, we get back our good ol' Doctor Harlene Quinzell back.

19 Comments

Should Marvel have a New 52-esque Re-boot

Say what you will of the new 52, it was rather successful. DC sales are their highest in years, they dominate in number of comics sold month after month and, more than anything, it got people talking, which is a success in it's own right.

With that in our minds, I've been noticing since the second month or so after the reboot that many people keep posting in the comments about how Marvel SHOULD do something in a similar vein, and how they absolutely will not pick up one of their titles until they do.

In many cases it's fairly obvious why people might want that. Nowadays there's over 50 years of marvel continuity that can, and does, occasionally come into play during their story-lines, hundreds of characters and teams and events that people might find confusing. For some, it's intimidating to jump into spider-man when there's over 680 issues, or to pick up one of the many X-books churned out every month. So I can understand the desire for it in theory.

HOWEVER in order to decide whether or not Marvel should do something as drastic as a line-wide reboot, we have to consider why DC did theirs. As any comic book fan will tell you, comic sales have all dropped since the end of the 90's, and DC was hit just like all the others. DC often under performed compared to Marvel, for whatever reason, and Marvel often had better success marketing it's toy, related products and adaptations (the recent explosion of Marvel movies should prove just that). While nowadays the top 10 selling comic books tend to be DC titles, Marvel still often wins the market share, and from what I've been reading lately, comic sales are up across the industry, so from a financial perspective they might not have the same need to do a reboot as DC did.

Another reason DC did their reboot was to strengthen continuity between their stories, to make sure people don't get confused by contradictory events and are able to make sense of the timeline and continuity of certain events. DC more than anyone has been guilty of this, from destroying the Multiverse in the first Crisis, to restoring it in 52, to making story lines like countdown to final crisis, which was retconned because it contradicted certain events that were written for Final Crisis. But if you can say anything about Marvel, it's that they're real precise about making sure they're continuity fits in with each other. While because of the sliding time scale, some characters age differently than others, and some things are often written out of existence for whatever reason, and the occasionally confusing way Marvel's multiverse works in relation to earth - 616, they still have a rather solid foundation.

Ultimately there's only two real reasons one would want a complete relaunch. The first is because of Marvel's recent trend to create large, year long events that drastically change the shape of the universe for years to come. While some might enjoy such things and the reprieve they give us from the cyclical nature of comics, the fact is that the best of these events are lukewarmly received by the general audience at best. Fear Itself is the most recent, and probably the one with the biggest "Meh" reception I've seen. This is bad enough, but often events from well over 10 years ago can come into play rather often, which might make it harder for some to jump right into the stories.

The other reason is just the numbering of the book. One of the reasons I haven't picked up something like Amazing Spider-man, or, until recently, X-Factor, Is because it can seem like a daunting task to get yourself caught up with the new status quo when you see that there's at least 80 issues of backlog that explain all the bits and pieces of past arcs. While it is of course a fact that there are a ton of jumping on points and .1 issues to catch you up, it can still be intimidating, which I think is what throws most people off.

In the end, though, I think the Marvel universe as is should remain untouched. It might be harder than DC is at the moment to start reading, but it's certainly not impossible, and they definitely don't have the same need DC did to undergo the reboot. What do you guys think?

28 Comments

No One Likes Superman Any More (and how I'd change that)

So Superman. I knew I would think of some things to say about the Man of Steel eventually. Supes is without a doubt the most divisive A list super hero in all of comics, with people either loving him and what he stands for or else are completely apathetic to him and his stories. There are hundreds of reasons to explain this: He's over powered, he's an icon, he's a role model, his existence basically eliminates need for other heroes etc. etc. But the main reason I keep hearing, the one I think is the biggest thing keeping him from being universally accepted by the comic reading masses, is that he is Dull. just incredibly BORING, plain and simple.

And unfortunately, this is a valid complaint. The average fan could probably only name off a few things about the character that actually define him outside his power set. He's married to Lois Lane, he's the last son of Krypton, he's got a few buddies at the office and he pretends to be the office bitch when he's disguised as Clark Kent. and that's about where it ends. Literally nothing more defines him as a character than that, in the eyes of the public, and most stories I've read only back that up. That isn't to say that these things can't be used to great effect in making an engaging story with an interesting premise, but the fact is that in our minds (and on paper), Superman hasn't had any real permanent changes to his status quo since he got married to Lois Lane way back when.

That brings us to the reboot, with Grant Morrison completely re-vamping the character, as he is want to do, with Action Comics, and veteran George Perez handling the "current" incarnation of Superman in... Superman. And there have been some mixed results, to say the least.

Having read all of the new 52 Action comics (up to issue 7 at the time of this writing), and having seen some reviews and critiques of it throughout the opinion cesspool that is the internet, what we ultimately conclude is that despite a few storytelling problems, Morrison has in effect given us a much more exciting Man of Steel to get behind. His brash, headstrong and arrogant nature, combined with seeing how the world reacts to him before he becomes the poster boy for Justice, cannot be called boring by any means, though if you want to argue about the quality of the stories you sure can make a few points.

Perez's run, on the other hand, tosses aside all that in favor of a more classic Superman tale, slightly tweaked to fit a few editorial mandates. That is it. I wrote before about how this book was one of the most disappointing titles I've read over the reboot, and the fact is it all stems from the excitement I felt after reading Action comics. This was Superman After having grown up and matured a bit, who combines his past personality with what he's learned and experienced, and using that to make him a better person. Aaaaaaand... complete failure. What we got was a series so disconnected from it's recently established origins that I kinda suspect Perez didn't bother reading it, and just wrote Supes as he would have back in the 80's (hell, he probably didn't even read the first issue of JLA!). What we should have gotten was a calmer, more collected and patient Superman who still had some hints of his past. Instead we got what is the equivalent of him having recently been chemically castrated. Sure, as Clark he does get riled up after the ownership of the Daily Planet changed hands, but it was lukewarm at best, and combined with seeing how he reacts to Lois Lane's boyfriend, he comes across as no more than a whiner. I refuse to believe that after 5 years knowing each other, he didn't make a single move on Lois, or that he'd just mope like that when he finds out that (surprise) she's human and needs to get off with a man some times.

Which leads me to my problems with having their marriage erased from continuity. Now, this isn't One More Day, this is more turning back the clock. We all know that the two are going to end up together at the end, we're not stupid and, despite some questionable decisions, neither are DC. This change was done for two reasons

1) Because DC thinks that our heroes need to be single, for a time, in order to be more relateable (as Aquaman and Animal Man have proven, though, this is bullshit)

2) Because Lois and Superman have been together for so long that the average reader has no idea how they got together, at least when it comes to the details/ events surrounding it

But unfortunately, instead of perhaps seeing an entertaining little romp about how the most powerful being in existence and his tough reporter co-worker fall in love, we're subjected to a typical story about unrequited love from a nerdy man who actually has an incredible secret. SNOOORE.

I know that isolation is the big theme that Perez has been pushing onto this book, which makes sense when you're an endangered alien species in disguise who occasionally engages in fisticuffs with a bald man and a super computer, but certainly we could have seen SOMETHING new and surprising from this book. And that's really what it boils down to: It's pushing for change, but it's being much too safe about it

In the end, you have to ask yourselves if a Superman book can ever deliver what I'm looking for in a book, and really all my complaints can and probably are being cast aside by people who defend this book since it is just my opinion (which is true, but doesn't mean they aren't completely valid). But at the same time, I feel that we CAN have our cake and eat it too, that there is a middle ground and a way that can make this character work for a wider audience, without sacrificing his appeal to his current readership. So I've made a few suggestions on how I would see a Superman book working.

First, we should just accept that Superman is insanely powerful. There's really no point in bringing his strength down in a hope that him being only able to lift 100 tons instead of 200 will make him suddenly more likable. Instead, focus on making his adventures more creative, more interesting, and/or more FUN. Go for high concepts like Stormwatch, or go a zany route to make it more entertaining. Or both. There's only so many times we can see our mightiest hero have to stop "A new threat that is laying waste to Metropolis, one that May Be More Powerful Than the Man Of Steel Himself Can Handle!" before we just collectively go meh and pick up something worth reading (such as the ever fantastic Demon Knights, which i shall continue to shamelessly plug).

Once that's established, we gotta give Superman a deeper personality, one that has something more to him than the "Nerd/Hero" duality that most writers seem to rely on. I suggest that they do what Perez should have done from the start, run with the Isolation angle that DC has been pushing, but keep the dick-ish Superman that Morrison and Geoff Johns are crafting in their books. How would you do this? By making his arrogant nature as superman part of his disguise, a front that Clark Kent wears because he's actually deeply insecure about his life due to the lonely he feels, since he can't truly relate with human beings. Boom. There's your book. Check please.

From there, you need to integrate the supporting cast. Hacker Jimmy Olsen? That's just painful in how much of a stock character they're trying to make him. I got a better idea. If you guys haven't heard of it, there's a fantastic mini-series out called Superman: Metropolis, which focuses on Jimmy Olsen. In it, he still is superman's pal, but he stands on his own. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get a shot, he's naive but knowledgeable, and he's just a fun, interesting character, and it even gets a bit tragic. that's what they should aim for. If there's one thing Bucky Barnes and Damian Wayne have taught us, even the lamest of sidekicks, done right, can shine on their own. I don't know much about Perry White, so I'm not gonna mention him, but i'm sure he can't be too hard

Ultimately, what really doesn't work about Lois is that despite being in Action comics, she seems to have no real relationship with Clark to speak of. What they could have done is instead make them close friends. Serious BFF territory. Then continue with the idea that Clark pushes people away due to his inability to connect with humans in order to make tension in the relationship, which is why they never got past "just friends". OR make Lois the one person Clark feels he can truly connect with, which makes her lack of interest in him all the more tragic. The only reason seeing her with that other man had any sort of impact on us is because we know that their SUPPOSED to be together. Instead, emphasis should have been made on WHY they aren't together yet, instead of just "Oh, Clark's a dork".

And that's really all I have to say about this. To clarify, I write these things in order to improve my writing skills and my ability to make clear, concise arguments, So feedback, comments and discussions are much obliged. I DEMAND them. Agree, disagree, better ideas, things I'm ignoring or not touching on? TELL THEM TO ME. And thanks for reading.

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Save Olliver Queen

I did a blog a while back about how much the current volume of Green Arrow disappointed the hell out of me, which many people seemed to agree with. However, this weeks issue Green Arrow #7 kicked off the run of a new creative team, with Ann Nocenti penning the title, which gave me a bit of hope. I just finished reading the issue (download, the past 6 were way too crappy to warrant ethics when all I wanted was COMPETENCY in a title) and it was definitly an improvement. it was much more entertaining, Queen was much more of a happy go-lucky asshole playboy than before, and the story was a bit goofier. It was still flawed, though, and didn't win me over or convince me to add it to my pull list. That being said, when re-reading it to do a review (I scrapped that, couldn't express myself clear enough) I realized that they might have done a hard reboot with this character, and that he may have only been Green Arrow for a shorter amount of time than the Justice League. In fact, they might be setting him up to become the old Ollie we know and love.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Reading this issue a second time, I saw a lot of hints that may lead to a repeat of Ollie's original beginnings. Back in the Silver age, Ollie was just another Batman knock-off, a billionaire/superhero, until he loses all his money, lives poor for a while, and sees how people are living, which prompts him to take up the ultra-liberal politics we loved him for. In this issue, we see that Ollie is very irresponsible and kind of selfish, and that someone in Q-core is trying to wrestle control from the company from him because of that. Because Ollie is presumed dead at the end of the issue in the eyes of the public, I feel like there's a good chance Ollie will lose the company, which will trigger his decision to become more responsible and more liberal minded, like his classic origin. It also helps tie up a few loose ends, such as why Ollie was so cold-hearted to Roy in the past (and why he was never mentioned so far), where his relationship with Black Canary stands (probably never happened), and could leave things open to the return of Connor Hawke, which would be a nice addition. This would really help bring some life into the series and help clean up some of the unanswered questions we have over this tale.

Honestly, I'm really hoping this happens, Ollie is so bland and generic nowadays that he needs something to set him apart. And considering the 2 writers that have already left the title and the poor reception I keep hearing, I'm hoping something at least similar to this happens to save this title.

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SHAZAM and the Justice League (Dark)

while I've got my mind stuck on SHAZAM for a bit, I'm kinda thinking that maybe somewhere down the line he might have a place (or at least an association) with the Justice League: Dark, due to his magical roots. I think that might work, once the current plot threads on JLD have wrapped up a bit. Just an idea, it might actually be terrible when I stop to think about it, but i can see it happening, especially if he doesn't get his own ongoing/mini-series.

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Quick Thoughts on the recent SHAZAM news

Last week I made a post about Captain Marvel AKA Billy Batson soon to be AKA SHAZAM, just a few musings I've had shaking around in the back of my head since discovering this character and hearing about his reintroduction into the New 52. then, sometime earlier today, we we're finally given a proper look into his back-up features, including a proper image of him in his new costume. Now, I am only recently familiar with the character, and as such I don't have any nostalgia glasses, nor do I have a well formed concept of how Billy Batson is supposed to be written, so I'm going to avoid making any opinions based on that and just give my own opinions and responses to some of the comics I've read here on Comic Vine, as well as other sites such as IGN.

The main thing people seem to be talking about is the image of SHAZAM that DC released with the article. When I first saw it, i didn't quite know how to react. most of it was obscured with shadows and heavy inking, which gave the whole thing a very dark and angry tone. This... disappointed me. I was looking forward to maybe seeing this series as being a light-hearted magical adventure comic book, with only touches of drama and darkness when needed to make the story feel a little more powerful and help us react to what we read, and this single frame kinda made me lose some of that hope, and made it seem like every other gritty reboot character that the comic industry seems to focus on nowadays. Of course, some would counter by saying it's just a promo shot and I should wait until the series comes out properly before making a judgement, which is fair, but now we have certain expectations of the series because of this advertising, so it's gonna be under a lot of scrutiny from fans expecting to hate it, though it could be that the series will ultimately make us eat those words (or not). Another thing this image gives me, besides the idea of a more violent Billy Batson, is the nagging feeling that they might be trying to make the Captain DC's answer to Thor. It works in the abstract, the're both magic based beings with connections to the gods and mystical themed stories, but at the same time I'm worried they might be trying to capitalize on the Asgardian's popularity by imitating him TOO much. As for the costume itself, it still is pretty well obscured for the most of the finer details, though we do see things like the gauntlets, belt and boots. The biggest change to it seems to be the hood, and I'm not sure how to feel about it. I don't really hate it, in the abstract, in fact I kinda think it could be pretty cool, but in practice it might seem a bit ridiculous, and might not work for the character. I think that maybe the best thing for it is to have it be optional, like maybe when he transforms he starts wearing this but (since obviously it's not meant to hide his identity), he takes it off at certain points and it could comes off in battle or something. I'm feeling kinda neutral about the hood/cape combo, I guess.

As for the information released about the story itself, again mixed feelings. I REALLY wish Billy Batson was still a kid. We already have elderly, middle-aged, young adult and teenage super-heroes, but no young children. While I'm not particularly a fan of superheros that are very young in comics (one of the main reasons I haven't quite been able to fully enjoy the new Ultimate Spider-man, despite some fairly good writing), the fact that Batson changed into an adult made up for it, and could provide some decent entertainment and depth to his character, especially after seeing him in Young Justice (a role i absolutely love in that series). Hopefully they'll keep him fairly young (I'd settle for 13-14 years old, TOPS), and the age won't make him a generic teen hero like I've been seeing fairly often nowadays... As for the name change, I understand why they did it, since new readers probably don't know about the legal issues surrounding the name and might be confused when buying a SHAZAM comic and getting some guy named Captain Marvel. That said, SHAZAM is way too campy a name for me to take seriously, and much prefer Captain Marvel. I personally am also hoping they bring up some of Batson's supporting cast back, though are they gonna call Freddie Shazam Jr? Mary Shazam? I unno, kinda hard to have a Marvel family without Marvel when you think about it...

I guess to sum my feelings up in one word, it would be "disappointed". Nothing about this announcement really got me eager for Justice League #7, and i'm more than a little more pessimistic about the back-ups. That said, I'm still gonna give it a chance, and there's still a lot of potential for this series. Hopefully Geoff Johns can work his magic and get me interested in this new take on the character.

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Contemplating the Captain (Marvel, that is)

Recently, I've been reading some backlog of the old DCU, mostly stuff that came highly recommend through some well known faces in the fandom that is comics (Linkara, The Gutters etc.) so things like All-star Superman, Red Son, GL:Rebirth and the like. About 2 weeks ago I finished off the last of a friends copy of the absolutely fantastic 52, which was just a fantastic series all around, but what really stood out about it was how focused on some of the most obscure characters in the universe and really brought to our attention how powerful their presence can be and how they could still carry a story, even in today's climate. All the cast was treated with plenty of respect, but the main family of characters that caught my eye (other than The Question(s), him/her being one of my favorite hero's ever) was the SHAZAM/Marvel family, a group of characters that has been grossly mishandled over the years due to various legal and financial problems, mostly the issue regarding the use of the very name "Captain Marvel" (in other words, creativity getting shafted because people just couldn't couldn't share their toys). My interest in them had been picked already with the hilarious interpretation of the Captain in Young Justice, but thanks to this series I actually got a much greater feel for him and his supporting cast, and I really found myself wanting to learn more about the characters. When I had heard about captain marvel in the past, I typically wrote him off as a superman parallel, but this series really sold me on how much possibility his world could provide, and how he could really set himself apart from the rest of the DCU. Then I read a couple of other stories (there's unfortunately not that many), most recently Judd Winick's The Trials of Shazam!, which was.. allright. Great art and it definitely tried to revamp the characters and the more magical/mythical nature of their stories, and in some ways it did, but it just fell flat at some point. Still a good effort, but I assume it didn't have the intended effect DC wanted since I can't find many other series featuring the characters.

That brings us to now, with The New 52 in full swing and not looking to slow down any time soon. Recently, Geoff Johns has announced that he is writing a back-up feature in Justice League that is in effect completely revamping the Captain Marvel character, retelling his origin from scratch (and permanently changing his name to SHAZAM to avoid the confusion he has probably caused for so many years). I personally feel this is a great Idea, for a number of reasons. First and foremost Geoff Johns has become, along with Grant Morrison, to be the go-to guy in restoring popularity and relevance to characters whose interest has long been lost to the public eye. We all know about the success of Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Teen Titans etc. (and some will argue about his work on the Flash), so it seems kind of rational to put him in charge of this new series. Including it along with the Justice League is also a smart idea, it being the number one selling comic today would mean that a lot of people would be exposed. Combine that with the cleaning up of the continuity and giving a definitive origin for newcomers, and you may just have your self a hit.

My only real concerns at this point that Geoff has a habit of planning big events and being a little underwhelming in their delivery (think back to Flashpoint, HUGE game changer, but it never felt as BIG as a story that changers the fabric of a universe SHOULD be), plus looking at how the current JL series seem to focus on making almost blockbuster style stories that focus on style more than substance, I worry that either the SHAZAM back-ups will either be done too much along those lines, or be too much of a contrast to the main feature. In any case, I'm optimistic, and will give it the chance it deserves. Especially since if it is well received, and with DC always hinting at more cancellations coming on the way, we might be looking at a SHAZAM ongoing (or maybe a "series of mini series" kinda thing might be cool), and at this point I am kind of looking forward to it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. If you know any good SHAZAM stories, if you disagree or have other thoughts on the matter, feel free to tell them too me.

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Disappointing New 52 Titles.

Let's face it, we all have characters, teams or concepts we all love. The very name of the thing, for example "Teen Titans", puts a certain idea in our head about whether or not we will want to read the title, and advertising is basically centered around finding the middle ground between what people will expect and what there gonna get. So, as always, we feel let down when we actually get to read this title that has been hyped up to us and then really disappoints us. So thinking along those lines, I've decided to quickly compile a list of the most disappointing titles I've read out of the new 52, some based on first issues i dropped soon after, some after a reading the whole run. Here we go.

Superman

This stems mostly from the fact that Grant Morrison, as he is want to do, set up a whole new Superman with a changed attitude, one closer to his socialistic roots as originally conceived. Like it or hate it, it was a take on the character that accomplished what DC has been trying to do for years: Make the Man of Steel relevant and interesting in today's climate. Then I gave Superman a read and couldn't help but wonder what happened there. I only read the first issue, but he seems just like the big boy-scout we all got tired of. And since Action comics took place 5 years before the current title, that means he hasn't made any real connection with Lois despite knowing her all this time. What the hell? I don't get the appeal other than "Hey, it's superman. Look up to him", and that's not enough for me. Bleh.

Static Shock

Static Shock was a case of DC comics expecting too much and too little from Static fans. His show was pretty big and pretty cool as a kid, despite being a pretty much unknown character at the time, and I'm willing to bet few people who knew the show were even aware he was DC, so this was the perfect chance to give him his due. But no, DC decided to bring him to New York, give his sister a clone, and stick him in a lab. Besides his name and powers, I doubt people would have even recognized him If they were made to read an issue. And not even the writer stands by his work, so you know things weren't going well, not too mention a sub-par artist doing the pencils. This was a chance to win over a crowd who loved the show as children who might have given it a shot, but this... didn't work.

Red Lanterns

Okay, I'm kinda cheating, since I don't think anyone expected much from this, but when the bar is so low, the fact that I felt gyped means they really didn't give a damn about this title. and Peter Milligan is a great writer, so don't get me wrong. but 5 issues of staring at a corpse and then losing said corpse is not what I want from a series about a group of murderous Aliens that spit blood-acid.

Teen Titans

Scott Lobdell is a good writer, but he dumbs his script down so much in what can only be an attempt at targeting the youth market that the story just doesn't appeal to me. He's great with big concepts and tie-ins, plus he can write a solid character (such as Jason Todd), but really this book just doesn't work. What all writers have to do when writing for a certain demographic is trust their audience without expecting anything from them, that's how a good book gets done.

Legion, both titles

I literally had to force myself to finish these books, they were that bad. I thought the legionnaires looked kinda cool, and the setting could have gone anywhere, especially since I had no prior knowledge of the series. but that's just it: I had no idea what the setting was. And the writers REALLY counted on the fact that you knew everything there is to know about these guys, because they never explained shit. There was a bit about how Flashpoint meant that the Legion lost contact with the cast of Legion Lost, but that's it. unlike some titles, where you could come in around issue 3 or 10 or 50 and be able to piece things around as they went along, I wasn't able to do that on issue 1. And that's just a fail beyond anything I have ever heard of.

Green Arrow

More than anything, this series angered me. It's not the garbage writing, the weak cast or the poorly executed plots, it's the total mischaracterization of Oliver Queen. What made him stand out from other DC characters was his swashbuckling attitude, his loud mouth and his notoriety for going off on left-wing tangents. He could be an asshole, but that's what made him fun, and they took that all away to make him younger and fit with the image of him from "Smallville". In fact, de-aging him was the biggest mistake they could have made, since not only did he lose his awesome beard (sure, it was goofy, but so was he), but he also lost alot of his history that made him unique: his fully grown son (which would make him what, 40 at least?), his time as a billionaire, a pauper, and as mayor? His whole relationship with black canary? He lost everything in this reboot, and gained nothing of any real value. Ann Nocenti is taking over soon, hopefully she can inject some much needed douchebaggery and left wing bravado to maybe give us an entertaining Ollie Queen.

and those're my picks. Feel free to tell me what let you down, or if you disagree and why, i'd be glad to hear it.

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