First of all sorry for the major delay since the last one for anyone who reads this, its literally been months, second if you have problems with my grammar sorry, english is not my mother language and I don't care enough to use word : P
Now to what's important and that is to drive atention to a title that greatly requires it and that is Tony Bedard's R.E.B.E.L.S. (Everyone loves acronyms right?)
The title features an amazing cast of assembled cosmic characters with a balanced combination of fan-favorites like Starfire, Lobo and Adam Strange; cool but long forgotten characters like the sons of Brainiac (one of them is even the protagonist!) and Despero and a full group of new characters that are created by Bedard. The main appeal that I've always had when it comes to cosmic comics is that its literally in a galaxy far far away, its because of this that we mostly never get crossovers of what is happening in our little blue (grey?) planet.
With that in mind almost anything can happen and the threats are greater than before, making the feeling of urgency all the more powerful, even taking all of those elements away we can see that R.E.B.E.L.S. is an extremely well written comic with amazing art that unfortunetly isn't getting the sales it should be getting, more than likely because of the fact that its for the most part in its own part and the market couldn't possibly tolerate a good standalone comic....sigh
Also the major hook of this book is that while Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors all take care of the threats that come because of the emotional spectrum, R.E.B.E.L.S. covers the rest of the DC space, they are constantly showing various races that are either completely new or forgotten a long time ago, fans of what DnA are doing in the Marvel cosmic corner should definetly check this book because its on the same flavor.
Vril Drox is the protagonist, the son of Brainiac and jerk anti-hero, which makes him one of the most compelling protagonists currently in comics, Bedard also makes a great job in giving each one of the characters its own unique voice which also stays true to the character.
Give yourself and the comic the chance it needs and pick R.E.B.E.L.S.
Before I start to go into more detail I simply want to mention that I love the Teen Titans, they are my favorite team in comics and as a big fan hate the treatment that they've experienced in recent years by DC. Call it titan memorial month because the next four (counting this one) will be all about four out of the five original characters that founded the team, outside of Dick it seems that if you are an original titan you don't really serve.
With that in mind I thought of starting with the character that I feel is having it the worst right now, Roy. I'm a massive fan of Roy Harper and even though I've been reading comics for about 2-3 years I've been a strong follower of his adventures, as surprising as it may sound before this story there wasn't a single direction or appearance of the character that I didn't enjoy, he was one of the most consistently written characters no matter if he was called Speedy, Arsenal or Red Arrow.
This post contains various spoilers from the miniseries JLA: The rise of Arsenal. If you don't want to be spoiled please stop reading
History of the character
Roy Harper was Speedy, the original sidekick of Green Arrow and founding member of the Teen Titans. Through the years he has been present in various line-ups of the Teen Titans (even leading them on one occasion), the Outsiders and eventually the Justice League of America. Through these changes he has also picked other costumes and identities to reflect his current personality, the first change was Arsenal (which is by far the coolest name he's ever had) which reflected not only his change of weapons but also that he wasn't "Speedy grown up" anymore, he was at the time a member of Checkmate and so had enough new skills to separate himself from his former mentor, Green Arrow, or his best friend, Nightwing. Eventually he took the mantle of Red Arrow and joined the Justice League where he pays homage to Green Arrow even if he has yet to die (permanently) or retire.
He has had long relationships with both Donna Troy and Cheshire (with who he had a daughter, Lian Harper) and had a history with drugs but later was able to get away from his adition. Strong mentor figures for him have been Green Lantern (Hal), Black Canary and of course Green Arrow.
These are the first things that the writers remember when writing the character and while it is most of the important part of his story its not the only one, an aspect of Roy that has been forgotten more often than not in recent years is his true heritage and spiritual teachings. You see, after his father died and before Green Arrow took him as his protege Roy was raised by the navajo who taught him in all of their traditions and way of thinking, something that really determined his way of thinking in some aspects like the honor, the importance of an identity and death (more of that in awhile)
During the events of Cry for justice Roy lost his bow arm along with his daughter due to the actions of JL villain Prometheus, this resulted in the death of Prometheus at the hands of Green Arrow.
Here's a list of other things that you may or may not know about and that DC has just chosen to forget:
1. Roy Harper is not a killer.
During the new Arsenal miniseries its been shown that Roy has anger problems which have led him to almost killing/attempting to kill/thought of killing various persons. The list includes Prometheus, Electrocutioner, Speedy and most recently Batman (Dick). This has been shown as part of Roy's response to the death of Lian, why he blames Batman and Speedy is beyond my belief but that is also for later.
According to interviews that came before even the first issue was released the DC editorial had already chosen what to do with Arsenal even before they had chosen the writer, a lot like James Robinson's Cry for justice, this along with how different JT Krul has despicted Roy in an issue he did in the Titans title with no editorial mandate against this miniseries only serves to prove that the writer does get Roy and is putting him in that direction simply because DC wants to.
Here's a perfect example of what I'm saying:
Not only does the writer contradict himself but it also shows how much out of character the new bloodlust behavior of Arsenal is.
2. Roy doesn't hate Ollie
The relationship of father/son and sidekick/mentor between Roy and Ollie is far from perfect, yet for some reason in the miniseries it is despicted as if Roy has a great resentment over Green Arrow. That relationship had great downs (Green Arrow leaving Speedy for a roadtrip with Green Lantern or the drug addiction that came later) and great ups (Roy taking Ollie's mantle) but in the end they considered each other family and had a bond that couldn't be destroyed no matter how much one or the other screwed up.
For all reasons and purposes, they were a father and son and they loved each other because of that no matter the flaws.
I can see it been later explained that Ollie killed Prometheus only so that Roy wouldn't do it, a way of making the decision all the most logical but let's be honest, the guy made massive terrorism on his city and his grandaughter was one of the many casualities, no wonder he killed her.
Green Arrow is a jerk lol and far from the best mentor figure one can find but he hasn't fallen so much in Roy's eyes as it is despicted in this story and even if he was, they endured the abandonment, the adiction, the growing up and everything that came after that, this wouldn't be what finally broke the relation in any logical story.
3. Black Canary sees Roy as her son and viceversa
Another of the things brought in this story is how cold and angered Roy acts against Dinah, who for all reasons should and could be the one person that would put Roy on his senses. Of all the scenes here is probably the best one to show my problems with the mishandling of their relation:
Besides of making Roy a complete d!ck this scene is stupid for the following reasons:
1-Thanks to her being put on a Lazarus pit, Dinah can now have childen. Roy you just got owned by continuity.
2-Black Canary has adopted the girl named Sin and although she ain't from her own blood she is very much her daughter.
3-Probably my favorite one: As far as Dinah is concerned, Roy IS his son
4. Roy Harper is a ladies man, but he isn't a sexist pig.
Another one of the qualities that I've ever liked about Roy is that he has all of the bad boy attitude and appearance to be a ladies man and he in fact a ladies man when he wants to be. Grace Choi, Hawkgirl, Cheshire, Huntress and Donna Troy are just some of the women with who Roy has had relationships. There is in fact a time when Beast Boy challenged Roy to gain the number of three women in a bar in less than five minutes and he was able to achieve it without a problem.
Even if he is able to get almost any woman he wants, making him a perfect target for the big sexist macho image to be put on him his personality has shown that until the miniseries started he was a sensible man that respected the feelings of the women he got involved with, at the very least with Cheshire, Donna and most recently Hawkgirl.
The one priority for Roy has always been his daughter and so he has grown to be the best example he can be for her. The personality of Roy during his new miniseries features such golden phrases as "She likes it rough anyway" and "I totally believe I had sex with her" during the middle of the fight. This not only contradicts the personality of Roy but also makes him someone who is way more difficult to like, at least personally speaking.
This leads me to the feelings of Roy to women, especially the two most important ones in his life; Donna and Cheshire.
Now unlike the image that they want to sell of Cheshire in the new series, the relationship they had wasn't based only on lust and sex. The two of them had a strong romance before they knew the secret occupation of the other and according to the run of Wolfman/Perez Roy is the only man that Cheshire ever loved and Roy also had incredibly strong feelings towards her even before he knew of Lian's existance.
This was followed up during Grayson's Titans where their relationship was a recurring theme when also trying to start the Donna/Roy relationship. Their love continued for awhile until Roy finally decided to break it off and yet Cheshire still remained an important part of his life due to how he doesn't want anything to injure the image Lian has of her mother. It was during this story that it was determined that Cheshire was a strong love for Roy which even if he has moved on from is still an important part of his history and a defining aspect of his life and his relationship with Lian. Yet in the miniseries they show that relationship as if it had been just a random affair with a good ending.
However that isn't the only relationship that has been hurt on this story, the other important woman in the life of Roy is Donna Troy, co-founder of the Teen Titans during the time of the original five. Donna and Troy had a strong relationship both in the original Teen Titans and in Devin Grayson's Titans. This relationship was strongly built and even when it was over remained as a way to make the bond of Roy and Donna, who were already great friends, even stronger. The care and love that they feel for each other surpasses anything that they ever encounter and yet....
The lack of respect for any of the women despicted in the miniseries, along with the attitude and lack of importance that has been given to their past relationships simply doesn't stick well in my opinion.
5. Roy WAS a drug addict.
During his Speedy days Roy used to have a junky problem during the Dennis O'neil/Neal Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow. That was probably the best remembered and most important story twist of that era. That problem however was soon resolved when after being thrown to the street Black Canary took care of Roy, The drugs experience didn't define Roy as much as they helped define the way he wanted to be, the kind of man he wanted to become.
Ever since his experience with drugs Roy has stayed away from any kind of addictive substance and even for awhile helped the FBI to fight against drug traffic in order to prevent that from happening to anyone else. In the 30-40 years after that story was published ROy had never had any urge to go back to the adiction process of any substance until the moment that the miniseries started. Roy has now grown an addiction for pain killers which considering the pain of having lost an arm is completely understandable but that if you take in consideration his real reason for taking them is due to the psychological trauma it makes his fight against adiction pointless.
One of the other aspects I loved the most about Roy was how much qualities of a sympathetic hero he has and how one of the most important ones is the fact that he was able to break away from the use of drugs. Something that not many people have been able to do. By making him give in to addition once again you take one of the best role model qualities of Roy away from him for no real reason.
Like the scan on the left says, Roy was once a drug user but left that in the past. He didn't let that one moment determine who he was and instead chose to make the world a better place like his mentors. I hate using stories over and over again, I hate even more when they just throw decades old character development for the sake of gimmick storytelling.
6. The way that Roy Harper sees/deals with death.
The few people that Ive seen defend the new position and direction of Roy do it using the label "of realism" to justify the changed. Yes, a sad truth about life is that some people lose their children every day and some of them are broken due to this. They say that this pain can't be understood by anyone who has never had a kid, I for one can't really do it. How could I? I'm only eighteen.
But something I do understand, from my quite weak excuse of psychology is that every single person is diferent and thanks to the way he/she was raised and the experiences that they experience determine how they react to certain turning events. I guess the anger issues and misplaced guilt could be perfectly reasonable and even logical for some characters, I realize that is a realistic actitude towards loss.
That's why I could understand, even depending on the case support the reaction placed here if it was another character. I completely understood and supported the angsty actitud of Tim Drake when he had just lost his father, Superboy, Spoiler, Kid Flash, Batman, etc. but like many things there are stories that just don't fit the character, a perfect example of my opinion is the "Last days of Animal Man" according to interviews teh writer had chosen a kind of story where he wanted to show in a futuristic view what happened when a man discarded his responsabilities with his family for the ones of the superhero business. It was until he planed the series that he was offered Animal Man to be the main character which is something that is evident during the series for one of the main qualities of Animal Man was how he always put his family before the superhero job.
Just like the story didn't fit Buddy this one doesn't fit Roy. Had it been almost any other character I would believe and maybe even support the change (assuming that the story was good) but this one goes against all of the teachings of the navajo, as well as against the previous reactions of Roy when he lost someone close to him.
And I especially want to drive your atention to the following scan:
That scan beautifully expresses my main dislike to this take on the way Roy is being potrayed, sure the death of Lian should have been something way more powerful than the death of Donna, that much isn't in question. The main point is how Roy was raised and the beliefs of life and death that he was taught, the sensibility and way to respect the ones that have departed was something that wasn't shown only in the funeral of Donna but every time he met the fate of death in a closed one. Losing a child is worse than losing a father/mentor or the love of your life, but when someone has a complete set of mind about a subject and acts according to it on every occasion makes it kind of hard to believe that would change so drastically.
I loved Lian Harper and hated the fact that she was killed for a stupid story. However that's done, let's don't make the death of Lian also make the death of everything Roy ever stood for.
Since I'm just starting vacation and doing something productive is out of the question, I am manifesting my newfound free time in the form of writing that you really don't care for. That's how my weekly new let's call it collumn "Before they get the axe" was born and how "They were better off in limbo" was created too. In the former one (which you should check, its also one of my blogs) I talk about series that could use a little bit more spotlight due to bad sales no matter the quality. This one is almost the opposite, a rant about how some characters were screwed up or even ruined when they were put on the spotlight due to the mishandling of the creative team.
This week saw the release of War of the supermen #4 which was the culmination of almost 2 years of story that had been built in a crossover of the titles Action Comics, Superman, Supergirl, Adventure Comics, Superman: World of New Krypton and Superman: The last stand of New Krypton by the writing team of Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, James Robinson, Sterling Gates and Eric Trautmann.
Before we begin let me just say that I loved the New Krypton saga almost from the beginning and while I enjoyed the miniseries "War of the Supermen" I couldn't help but to feel mad about the end results that it caused. Before you continue reading let me just warn you that this will contain heavy spoilers of the miniseries.
Ok? Well let's begin.
The concept of New Krypton was simple; before the destruction of their planet the alien known as Brainiac abducted the city of Kandor (the capital city of New Krypton) and stored it on his alien ship where it remained for years. During their first real encounter Superman learned of their fate and rescued them from Brainiac restoring it to its former size in Earth's north pole (or was it the antartida?). Of course the tension between the kryptonians and the humans started to grow and eventually Alura (Supergirl's mother) takes Kandor away from Earth and creates the planet known as New Krypton.
During a whole year of stories Superman left Earth in order to live in New Krypton where he could keep an eye of Zod who had now become the leader of the militar guild of
their world, without their greatest hero a bunch of new superheroes raised from this story to fill Superman's shoes. While we already had Steel and Black Lightning operating in Metropolis we also saw how Zatara (cousin of Zatanna, check her new ongoing. Its awesome!), the Guardian and Mon-el moved to Smallville in order to protect it and keep order. At the same time we saw the birth of two new heroes using familiar names with the kriptonian duo of Nightwing and Flamebird along with the ultimate return of Superboy.
During this saga Superman was taken away from his two main books and was instead placed in the 12 issue maxiseries "Superman: World of New Krypton" where the reader through the eyes of Commander Kal-el starts to find out about the rich and exciting culture of the kryptonians. During that time Mon-el and the Guardian (with the occasional appearances of Steel and Zatara) were the stars of the Superman comic while Nightwing and Flamebird took over Action Comics. During this whole year some of the greatest writers of DC worked together to fabricate new amazing stories that hadn't been done before (doing that with Superman is a feat on its own) while at the same time bringing a much needed increase to the Superman family.
Why am I mad if something I love so much took place? Because in a single month (the miniseries was weekly) the writers threw everything they had created and returned to the former status quo. Let's check what changed the moment that the kryptonians arrived at Earth.
Superman lives in New Krypton/Superman will return to Metropolis in the next issue (ok I'm not mad about that one) General Lane is back from the dead/General Lane kills himself Supergirl is an outcast of Earth/Supergirl will be an active member of the Justice League Nightwing (Chris Kent) now free of the phantom zone is the avatar of the kriptonian god Nightwing which enables him to use cool shadow powers. He also is now a teenager/Chris is back in the phantom zone, as a kid without nightwing powers. Mon-el is the new protector of metropolis, wearing a costume which shows his loyalty to Superman/Mon-el is back in the phantom zone, with the old costume he had before this started. The guardian is the leader of the science police/the guardian returns to New Mexico where he was before all of this started
Zod was a relatable character with noble intentions who sincerely loved and cared for the fate of his people/Zod is a villain that just wants to take over Earth, like he was before all of this started.
Oh and here's probably my favorite about this: The existence of New Krypton, a planet full of potential storywise, a planet who the writers spent an entire year building for us to care about....Blown away, with 90% of its population. The remaining 10? Most of them were killed in mars, then around Earth. Even Flamebird (Character introduced in this story) had to sacrifice herself oh and the few remaining ones left? Zod and his men? into the phantom zone, where they were originally...cool?
In short the purpose of this rant was because I had to take off my chest my displeasure with the culmination of two years that I loved of stories and characters that were either killed or sent to comic limbo. The final arc wasn't bad, my problem is about how in the end it really didn't matter. I have the good old stories there and I can read it anytime but why can't we enjoy of these characters in the future and just in the past?
That's done for today, if you have any comment either positive or negative please post. Next one: Roy Harper
Something that I sometimes hate about comics is how much they are a democracy. We vote with our dollars the titles that we want the publishers to put on the market and a sad truth is that some ongoing simply can't live a long time before going into cancellation. Now there are a lot of reasons why publishers can "give the axe" to a series; respect to the departing creative team, other plans for the character, death of the character, reboot, etc. However the most common one always goes to this: Sales.
Comic publishers like any other company needs before anything to keep a standard of income in order to be profitable and sometimes no matter the quality the comic isn't able to keep the sales needed to support itself. It is a shame that some of the best books in the market are also the ones that sell the worse and this brings me to writing this new column in which I try to shift the focus from the 54034 titles featuring Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Spider-man, Wolverine or Deadpool and give it to titles that sometimes deserve it more and that certainly require it more.
Both comics are part of DC's licensing of the Archie heroes through the label of "The red circle". These characters are golden age veterans that came before some of the characters that are more well known (EX: The shield comming before Captain America) reinvented and reimagined by J. Michael Straszinski (Thor, Spider-man) for the 21st century and then carried out by various writers to create a cohesive conspiracy story.
Lt. Joe Higgins is the star of the main feature of the comic of the same name. Formerly a simple soldier of the US Army, Higgins was the victim of an ambush where most of his squad was killed and he was left with terrible injuries, in order to save his life the government made him the test subject of "Project Shield" where he was injected with nanotechnology that made him recover from his injuries and provided the former LT. with a powersuit that gave him metahuman abilities that he uses to be the first superhero sponsored by the army.
The original star of the co-feature of the Shield comic, the best way I can think of describing Inferno is Jason Bourne...on fire. Frank Verrano doesn't know anything about his past, however as the story unfolds you begin to realize that he has strong connections to the US government and carries secrets that even if he doesn't remember are big enough for the government to want to shut him down. As Frank Verrano activates his powers he not only is able to bust into flames but also change completely his civilian appearance.
The new star of the co-feature taking place in the Shield comic, the fox is a hero born out of tragedy and loss who found the road to inner peace in the martial arts when he learned that he was meant to be the totem of the Kitsune. Now the greatest hero of Japan, the Fox works for the Kitsune clan in order to free the streets of Tokyo from the crime that has now spread all across the city.
What if Bruce Wayne was really an irresponsible bachelor? What if Booster Gold was rich? What if Tony Stark was a d!ck? Ok an even bigger one. John Raymond is the rich hero known as the Web who for most of his life has taken care of himself with the family fortune until the moment that his bigger (and better person) brother dies thanks to a criminal. In search for the reasons why his brother was murdered he creates the Web costume and later licenses the name and costume to another 99 hosts who work for a network in which every time someone is in need of great help they attend the call. The star of the comic with his name.
Star of the co-feature of the Web comic. Robert Dickering was an innocent man who had been sent to be hanged by crimes he did not commit during the American civil war. Just before he died though a strange figure (which could be either god or the devil) appeared to him and offered him the opportunity to live if he were to exist eternally chasing evil unpunished men and hanging them to pay for their crimes. Now as the Hangman he protects the cities of San Francisco.
Comics credits: The Shield: Main feature: Writer-Eric Trautmann (Action Comics, Checkmate) Artists-Marco Rudy (Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape) and Mick Gray (Promethea, Supergirl and the legion of superheroes) Co-Feature: Writer-Brandon Jerwa (G.I. Joe, the highlander) Artist-Greg Scott (Gotham Central, Case files: Sam & Twitch) followed by Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Red Sonja) Covers by Francis Manapul (Adventure Comics, Flash) followed by Sami Basri (Witchblade, JLA: Classified)
Main feature: Writer-Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) followed by Matt Sturges (Blue Beetle, All Stars JSA) Artist-Roger Robinson (Azrael: Agent of the bat, Batman: Gotham Knights) Co-feature Writer-John Rozum (Scooby-doo, Xombi) Artist-Tom Derenick (Countdown, Shadowpact) Covers by Stanley Lau (Covers of Batgirl, Great Ten)
The Shield From the very moment that I learned that Eric Trautmann was announced as the new writer of the Shield I knew that there was no possible way that this was just another regular superhero title. Ever since he entered comics, I've been a big fan of Eric Trautmann, even if the name doesn't ring a bell fans should know him from his work paired with Greg Rucka in Checkmate and Action Comics while maybe also on his recent solo work on the miniseries JSA vs Kobra. What do all of these series have in common besides the writer and the great quality? They all feature before superheroics stories of politics, espionage and militar operations. With this in mind and considering the background of the character it is easy to realize the direction in which this series is going.
Inferno The story featuring this character has already finished and so it is a little easier to give an opinion of the overall story. When the story starts you are very much like Frank in that you don't have any idea what is going on, however as the story unfolds the reader and the protagonist start to uncover the mystery together in moments that can be either heartstopping or incredibly sad. The inferno story is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention.
The Fox unlike Inferno is just in the middle of the story so it is hard to explain it without giving too much away. However just like the inferno story the main character goes on a journey, this time a search for inner peace and purpose even if fate and gods want to come in the way of that.
The Web The web is a douchebag, that much can't be hidden. He however is also one of the most entertaining lead characters in a long time, as the spoiled brat tries to become more like his now dead brother and do good he can't help but to end up screwing up everything he tries for not thinking long term. As the stories continue the Web continues to learn that money can't buy heroics and so the story is all about how someone who doesn't have any of the qualities that make a hero try to improve himself both physically and morally in order to achieve just that.
The story is all about the struggle of our protagonist due to the burden placed to him in order to be the Hangman and how being in the spotlight after being always a creature that works in the shadows can be a bad idea...a really bad idea.
I'm more a writing than an art person, by this I mean that no matter how bad the art is I can let it aside if the writing is good enough, something that I can't manage to pull when the art is amazing and the writing is crappy (ex: All Stars batman) that being said when I see good art or art that stands out for some reason or the other I have to pay mention, all of the stories have good art in them but for me the favorite is the one of Marco Rudy in the Shield series because it is a combination of Bryan Hitch and JH. Williams III. The Shield drawn by rudy looks a lot like Captain America did during the ultimates and the way that the page is structured has a Williams feel to it, no longer limited by the format of panels after panels, rudy reinvents the page as he sees fit.
Why did I write about two series that have recently been cancelled when the whole point of this new collumn is to grab the atention of comicviners before they get the axe? For two reasons really, the first is to make conscience, these are amazing characters with great stories that won't be kept on prominence because the market wasn't aware of them and so like many others they pay the price of cancellation.
The other is because DC stands for these characters and they want as much as me for you to give it a chance. While the two series has been cancelled it has been announced that there will be a Mighty Crusaders one-shot in June followed by a miniseries that will be launched in july in order to finish the story of the red circle but that if sales are strong enough we could see the return of these characters in another form. So give these series a try and if you like them return for more on the miniseries
Maybe I'm crazy or really bored but deleted all of my bio on purpose and decided to start from scratch blame the fact that I think I improved Chaos Agent' story a lot and want to make more of my main character as possible.
New Bio comming soon, it will be very similar to the old one though lol