Archive | June, 2011

The End of the Secret Six

29 Jun

Catman of the Secret Six

Thanks to the recent push of digital comics, I recently tried out a “new” book DC prints. DC recently ran the lead into the Infinite Crisis for 99 cents and I decided to try out the six issues of Villians United. I never really cared for anyone in the book I knew of with the exception fo Deadshot . So imagine my surprise when I realized the book was mindblowing. And now, while attempting my best to buy the series as cheaply as possible, I discover the book is being cancelled with the run up to the DCnU. So should you try it even knowing it’s about to be cancelled?

Before I explain the best parts of the book, let me start with the things I wasn’t expecting to like. For one thing, I am a fan of the “true blue” DC heroes. I like Superman, Green Lantern, and Batman when they exemplify the best we can be. I like to see Superman as the classic untarnished hero. I never appreciated what happened to Hal Jordan long ago, and was thrilled when DC retconned the story to clear his name. The thought of reading a book about a series of villians was not appealing. Now, I admit I enjoyed the old Suicide Squad, but I always liked how Rick Flagg led the villians and forced them to do right. This book doesn’t have that. Each of the characters are true reprobates and honestly one of my favorite stories from the series is the “Cat’s in the Cradle” storyline where Catman sinks further into evil. The story made him much more real to me. Likewise, the thought of reading a book about a crazed, oversexed delusional doll of a man wouldn’t normally be my choice of reading material. Yet, honestly, the thought of losing Ragdoll is killing me. Gail Simone writes him perfect.

The other big thing holding me back from trying the book from day one were the character choices. I liked Deadshot from his days in the Suicide Squad and yet I always saw him as a poor man’s substitute for Deathstroke. Yes, I know he predated Deathstroke but he never seemed to make it nearly as big as Slade, and suddenly Deadshot was supposed to be a leading man in the book? Catman was almost always nothing more than a joke villian. Ragdoll was the child replacement of a somewhat disturbing 1940s era villian, who from all I heard was even more disturbing. Bane was the pathetic 90s era villian who was famous for one story, beating Batman and then being beaten everyother time he appeared. That left us the ladies, Scandal and Banshee, both new villians. Scandal’s father was the classic Green Lantern villian Vandal Savage. Banshee is probably somehow connected to the Silver Banshee, a useless Superman villian. Later on, they also added Black Alice, an emo teenager whose family was always having problems.

Somehow, though, Gail has made each of these characters so much more. Catman is suddenly good enough to go rounds with Batman and it actually makes sense. When he states that one day he or Batman will kill each other, I almost believe him. Deadshot is able to go toe to toe with Deathstroke and I can buy it. The new Banshee is much more interesting than the Silver Banshee. Bane is actually a well rounded character for once. Seeing his very weird affection for Scandal is touching and makes me wish the Bat writers could make him this interesting. The team is actually a truly unique part of the DCU that will be sad to lose come September.

So should you actually pick this series up? You have to know that it is not anything like what DC normally publishes. The characters are sexual deviants. Deadshot is technically seeing a dead woman. Ragdoll is a self-mutilated person, seemingly willing to spend time with anything. And don’t get me started on his relationship with his sister. These are all things I wouldn’t recommend normally, but if you have seen one American Pie movie, you have seen much more disturbing antics. The book is also exceptionally violent by DC’s standards due to the fact that it is led by a bunch of remorseless killers fighting people they may actually be worse than. Still, the artwork in the book has always been very good. Gail’s writing is definitely the show stealer though. These villians come across as much more real characters than many of the good guys in any comic book universe I read. Seeing Catman’s initial reaction to a “get out of hell free card” to seeing Deadshot finally repay “the Wall” for all the stuff she has put half of the DCU through, the book always pays off. There have been the occasional stories that aren’t quite brilliant, but I have yet to read any that aren’t worth reading. Give this book a shot and hopefully DC will get the hint. And although I have always loved the Suicide Squad, and am happy to see it getting a new book, I now actually will miss the replacements more than the originals. Never thought I’d say that.


The rise of digital comics

24 Jun

The comic book has been one of America’s most classic art forms for many years. Changes have occurred slowly over time. Some were great, like the rise of the direct market. Others were disappointing like the DC Implosion. New titles have launched and fallen. A few titles have reached an incredible history like Detective Comics and Action Comics. And yet, few changes have been as impressive as the rise of the digital comic. It is sweeping the nation and many publishers have launched apps that cater to fans willing to buy digital books. Recently, though, DC has taken an incredibly gutsy move by announcing they will be published all of their books online on the date of their print publication.

This is a move that needed to come. Most media now can be purchased digitally today. Music made the transition over twenty years ago and movies followed a few years later. Much more recently, the rise of the digital book has taken the print world by storm. In fact, one of the largest bookstores, Amazon, now sales more digital books than print. So it only makes sense that the comic book world should follow suit.

Starting in September, DC will publish each of their 52 books on the same date as their print counterpart. For the last year, they have had an app that sold digital comics, but few titles were released day and date with the print edition. This will be a revolutionary change in the comic industry. Currently, DC is the only major publisher with this plan.

So why is this a good thing for the consumer? Many comic specialty shops have stated this will be a major blow to their shops. And yet, a quick look at other types of media show that digital media didn’t destroy the industry but instead strengthened it after a period of transition. Some fans will stick to print copies of their favorite books and back issues will still need an outlet. If someone reads a digital Superman story and decides they want to see what they missed, the best bet is still to find a store.

Meanwhile, though, fans who live in the middle of nowhere like myself can still buy new issues without having to spend a fortune on gas to get to a shop. Another major pitfall that fans won’t have to worry about now is the “missed issue.” I have shopped at several stores over the years, and they all occasionally missed an issue, even if I subscribed to the book from their store. Now, that will be a problem of the past. Digital copies won’t sell out.

Finally, a word to those fans who see comics as a great way of making a fortune one day, take it from me. As a child I spent all of my money on comic books. At one point, I had over $10,000 worth of comics according to the price guides. However, when I wound up in a severe economic strain, I had to dump my books quickly to make some important bills and got $400 from my local shop. Comics will rarely be “money in the bank.” So it really shouldn’t matter what form you enjoy them in. If you like them, read them however they are available. For those willing to try out digital comics, the DC app (and Marvel, Comixology, et al) offer free issues of many books in an attempt to get you interested in them. Try it out!

My many years with comics and DCnU

24 Jun

Many years ago, my brother began letting me read his comics. I had not read comics but I got into the idea quickly. At the same time, I began watching Superfriends, which I thought was an amazing show. The show doesn’t hold up nearly as well today but the show introduced me to some of the greatest superheroes of all time. I quickly became enamored with DC’s classic pantheon.
When I got older, I started purchasing my own comics. I loved the DC comics of the mid 80s and 90s. I saw a Crisis rearrange reality. I saw the rise of the greatest era of the Justice League ever, and yes it was the days of “bwa-ha-ha-ha.” I saw Superman die and Batman get broke. My favorite character of all time, Hal Jordan, was made into a maniac and I had little hope of him returning. Still, I always loved seeing him return in various books. DC and Marvel finally had a series of crossovers and some were actually good. The early 2000s featured a classic run on Superman by Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly, my favorite Superman era ever.
I got married soon thereafter and had to stop reading comics because I suddenly had a crazy amount of bills to pay. For two long years, I sat on the sidelines while events changed in the DCU. I finally got the bills mostly under control and decided to see what was going on in the DCU to find that Hal Jordan was in the process of a major rebirth. I began buying several titles and am now knee deep in the midst of a flood of great comics. The Crisis finally had a mostly decent sequel which brought back the multiverse, although little has been done with it since then. The Legion of Superheroes has also returned, written by none other than the brilliant Paul Levitz, which I never thought could happen again. Digital comics have finally become a reality and I must say, I think it’s long past due. And now, DC has announced they are restarting their many superhero concepts.
I am eagerly awaiting the beginning of the DCnU. I am not sure what’s going to happen. Some of my favorite titles are being put down, and some classics are returning. Some of my favorite characters are suddenly in the spotlight, while others like Blue Beetle are still dead. But the prospects are bright. This is truly a new day in comics and it can’t start soon enough for me. What are your thoughts?

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22 Jun

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