Monday, June 27, 2011

"Then somehow Kathy's the reason we're all here?" - El Gaucho, Batman Incorporated # 5.

Doctor Dedalus. Batman. Batwoman. Gaucho. She's definitely the reason they're all there. Father, lover, lover, successor.

But what about The Hood? Why is The Hood there? I think it's possible to take Gaucho's words literally here, even though he's naive to The Hood's real motives. A super-spy. Working for T.H.E.Y., who we still know next to nothing about but who one imagines are a bit of every great pop culture British spy organization, in a world of super-heroes, probably founded by Sherlock Holmes at one point.

He works for a guy called Matron. What I'd never bothered to look up before is that the British Armed Forces never abandoned the term "Matron" and it's been used for male as well as female officers. (Also, of course, as I think has been mentioned elsewhere, Matrons are commonly associated with boarding houses. See: Batgirl's mission in Batman Incorporated # 9.) We can surely bet that Batgirl's mission to England will continue with the Brit angle Grant has been stringing along throughout his run, and it's likely enough beats from Knight, Squire, and highly likely The Hood will pick up there. I recall Paul Cornell wasn't permitted to use Dai Laffyn in his mini-series either ... so I wonder what the odds Dai turns up in the ninth issue will be.

But if Gaucho's remark is semi-literal, or meta-literal ... The Hood too is there because of Kathy Kane. Who we know from The Kane Affair was involved in all manner of espionage in her life, between flings, artistic endeavors and her marriage to Nathan and subsequent widowing and drafting by Spyral. I had to wonder if The Hood knew Kathy Kane personally as well. (Of course, if Kathy = Leviathan, that would explain the meta-literalness of the phrase as well.)


Lastly. Three PSY-OPS agents. What Batman does IS PSY-OPS. Using propaganda in warfare. Using bats, urban legends, rumor, darkness and fear to weaken his enemies. Colonel Kane called them "deep black", and black in US PSYWAR is used to designate the branch that is specifically used to deceive an enemy. Obviously deception is nothing new to Batman, Batman's enemies, Morrison, Morrison's run on Batman, yadda.

The question is, why would deceivers be the ones used to effectively be put on guard duty for Otto Netz? Highly trained guards can be found elsewhere. Do they need to be trained to recognize and look for deceptions? Possibly. Are they learning from their prisoner? Possibly. Or is there something more there?

Otto's conversation with Kathy seemed damn near a psychic chat in the middle of that acid trip freakout in the 60's. I don't believe he's psychic, but rather that Oroboro might give the psychic tools to somebody. OTTO is a palindrome as well. The old man - the fake Netz - spoke with his own voice, and only toward the end did we "learn" that it was a tape recorder.

I'd posit (today, anyway) that Netz was using his shadowy ability to speak through or control the fake Netz and then the tape recorder was more than just a little bit of duplicity to throw them off his trail having escaped.

We'll find out more soon. Like how Netz, Hood, Kathy and the super-spy angle ties with Leviathan and the continuing themes of "Super Drugs" and slavery we've been seeing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Spending those summer days indoors is troublesome, but I've been getting a bit of work done to stay in practice, and decided to take a crack at remaking some Silver Age DC Comics covers with Morrison-run characters, but keeping that hammy 50's style. All part-and-parcel of a not-so-deep-seated wish to see Morrison's Red Hood storyline reimagined by an artist that isn't Philip Tan.

Beginning with a more blatant homage to Detective Comics # 164 than the full-page spread we got in Batman and Robin # 6.

More to come.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Flash vs. Substance.

Anyone reading a blog as obscure as mine knows DC's gone completely mental. Everything's gotta be updated for the kids of 2011, big style. I wasn't a kid that long ago* and I find the whole exercise (on the creative side - not the same day digital side, that's just good sense) pretty unnecessary. But I'm not without my opinions and I'm the mood to type endless ineffectual, unnecessary and inefficient amounts of opinion rather than writing something purposeful and productive.

* I wasn't a kid that long ago. I'm twenty-six years of age. While I'm certainly not a "new fan" (picked up plenty of KnightFall back in the mid-90's, couple of Huntress books, some Superman, whatever the local gas stations had that looked good when they were out of Ninja Turtles books) I AM when it comes to DC a "new reader". A few hometown friends of mine rekindled my Batman love when we were booking metal shows together and playing in lousy bands, and it took off to be something more of an entire DCU publication obsession. What can I say? I was EXACTLY the age Batman: The Animated Series, and the following entirety of the DCAU was made for. Watched it religiously, right up through JLU, which is where my Star Trek obsession was the gateway for those characters Trek actors voiced. (Jeffrey Combs "Question", Michael Dorn "Kalibak". Christ, hit up IMDB for the various guest star voices that show had. The casting is incredible, and genius, too.)

Of course when I say I'm commenting on all of it, I'm really just pointing out a few obvious things, or things that pique my interest. Hell with the rest.

I'd like to thank the Mindless Ones ... I can't even remember to call Geoff Johns anything but "Jeans" anymore, that's been grafted to my brain like the words ZUR EN ARRH.

Justice League.
It'll sell. I've recently done a lot of reading of the old 60's JLA title (part of a process of learning every Aquaman appearance ever) and have to say that that League is superior to all others except the Morrison-Waid era. Look, it's not the most diverse League ever, but that's not the point. The point is seeing the most popular ten or so characters - headliners - in an even bigger, more epic headline title. All those seven coming together back then must have been EPIC and nothing has quite recaptured that. I'll be reading it just for more Aquaman news. JeansJohns might be writing it, so I'm not looking for nuance. But he does "Big Earth Invasions" justice. Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night, ANY of the Crises ... could have all been prefaced "Justice League: Event".

Justice League International.
This should be decent. I like Jurgens Booster Gold, and this feels like a direct follow-up to that, just absorbing some of Generation Lost (passable title) and hey, bringing in Morrison-creation August-General-In-Iron for some much needed different vantage points. Lopresti art is a lovely thing.

Justice League Dark.
I dig the idea of the JLA franchising. First off, it's a direct reflection of the zillion Avenger books out there, but also - being affiliated with the JLA gives credentials to these groups. Sure, Shadowpact is a great idea ... but who in DC trusts a group called that? Everyone trusts the Justice League. Milligan writing this cast of characters makes it guaranteed a try.

I don't care if it's Jeans. I'm an Aqua-whore. I'll be there.

Blue Beetle.
Bedard earned my readership with R.E.B.E.L.S. and Blue Beetle earned my like with Brave and Bold cartoons. I'll try # 1.

Wonder Woman.
Might Azzarello actually put some "wonder" back in it? Some "sensation"? Gail Simone got me into Wonder Woman, but I've never quite gotten hooked. I've re-read a lot of WW material from her entire history to try to figure out what makes her tick thinking if I could figure it, I'd write it and pitch it, but still haven't quite clicked it (I did find a lot of Atlantis material to swipe and donate to Aquaman though). Whatever. CLIFF CHIANG. I'll read it just to see his art.

Teen Titans.
On first glance this looks like a hot mess. 90's WildStormish costumes. Ridiculousness. I'm glad to see Tim Drake lead a book where he might finally not be a whiny little asshole but I hope he's not expecting to be less lame in that uniform. Further scans do seem to indicate it might be a sort of "Mainstream DCU" version of what's happening in the Young Justice cartoon though ... and that wouldn't be bad. They better bring in Aqualad fast if that's the case.

The Flash.
Manapul drawing speed without Jeans? I hear a lot of "Can Flash succeed without Jeans?" but I honestly think Barry Allen just caught a lucky break.

I had high hopes a Hawkman book I'd want to read was about to launch. Guess not.

Action Comics.
I really don't need to get into this, do I? Look to this Blog ... because I'm totally going to Blog about Moz Superman while we wait the requisite half-year gap between Incorporated volumes.

Does George Perez have anything to say about Superman I want to hear? I'm genuinely curious. And Jesus Merino is a sharp artist who grows month-to-month. Worth a look. Can't say the same about Superman's entourage without some reviews. No "Steel # 1" though? Worse still ... no "Lois Lane # 1"? No Lois title is unforgivable.

Animal Man & Frankenstein.
Lemire is sharp as a tack. Consider them read.

Swamp Thing & Batman.
Same goes for Snyder. Read and read.

Nightwing & Deathstroke.
Higgins is part of Snyder's league of compatriots. Gates of Gotham is solid character work and we're only one issue in. DC must have dug the next four chapters. Here's hoping by writing both titles Higgins can work in some of that Teen Titans Go! hatred for a crossover. I normally wouldn't look forward to a Deathstroke book. But I had a good memory remembering that time Dick Grayson put him down and out by giving him an actual "stroke" by shocking Damian.

Green Jeans.
I read Green Lantern. It's mindless. It's 1000 times too decompressed. But you know ... it's got this appeal where it's so stupid and obvious we can't imagine why we didn't already read these ideas back in the Gil Kane and Gardner Fox era. And I appreciate that kind of simplicity, even if its coming from Jeans and trying oh-so-hard to be complex. Tomasi on Gardner makes me smile, too. Maybe Tomasi will finally be the guy that makes John Stewart as interesting as he should be. Milligan's Red Lanterns book I think I'll surely read. Milligan writing a book about a vengeful space demon and his right-hand tomcat from the mean streets of New York City?

Legion & Legion.
I like Nicieza a lot. Red Robin has been good comics - it feels very much like an extension of the Dixon Robin series and 90's Bat Spin-Off Titles and I love that. I think he'll manage a subsect o f Legionnaires well. Pete Woods has already drawn this story before in the last year or less (See: Robinson, Rucka, Legion Espionage Team). Levitz feels like he never left Legion, which is good because Levitz Legion is what it is, and isn't ashamed of that. As a new reader, I never have any problem keeping up. Having read Jeans' Superman/Legion arc helps (Hell, Jeans' Action run was actually really simple and nice.) but at any rate ... Portela is good. Better than Cinar, and Cinar was headlining the damn thing.

Resurrection Man.
I feel like I know I "should" read it. But I won't. Weird scenario, right?

Suicide Squad.
Strike that, reverse it. I know I shouldn't, and I feel like it'd be spitting in Gail Simone's face because Secret Six ... and hell, her stints with the Squad ... were well-deserving of a follow-up in this slot. But I'm gonna read it regardless. Quinn makes sense here ... she's a psychiatrist of the criminally insane, after all.

Catwoman & Batwing.
Winick is a Jeans-man. His work is hit and miss, but never anything special. People did undervalue "Under the Hood", though. That story could have been far more efficient and elegant but it had the right ideas. "Lost Days" was bollocks and "Streets Run Red" has shit art but might actually manage an elegant follow-up to Morrison's more radical take on 90's-radical Todd. But is Winick on Todd come September? No. Weird, that. I'll try Batwing because I want to read about Jim Brown, Shaft, Ali and Super Fly combined beating the hell out of slavers, diamond robbers and warlords more. (Thanks Granty!) I'll try Catwoman because Winick seems to understand the "sexy" of Catwoman. I see nothing but Generation P/C yammering about what's appropriate and what's chauvinist, misogynistic, rude, lude, whatever. I don't think any of that applies to Catwoman. She's been Sex since Bob Kane introduced her and Batman spanked her and let her escape. I've seen the 60's Playboy pin-ups of Julie Newmar, damn it. I've recently rewatched Batman: The Movie '66 with Lee Meriwether purring and using Sex to mess with Bruce Wayne. Guillem March works for that.

Red Hood and the Junkies.
Number One gets a cursory glance from me. I can see Jaybird getting redeemed. Even Morrison mentioned he's redeemable. Roy Harper needs a new lease on life and I can only imagine the look on Dick Grayson's face when his ex-space princess girlfriend settles for Robin # 2, the next best boy wonder. Solid concept ... execution will mean everything.

All-Star Western.
More Gray & Palmiotti on Hex is good. DC would be stupid not to continue those stories.

I, Vampire.
Twilightmania officially Eclipses the DCU. They do have a solid chance to tell a vampire story that doesn't suck. Although just by the cover alone it looks more "Anne Rice" than I'd want. That's still a step up from Twilight, though - at least Rice's take was original. I want pure Lord Byron, hate and vulgarity. And unlike another major comics company, I want a Dracula who doesn't get jobbed. You don't job Dracula.

Last complaints. Jim Lee redesigned all these costumes? No. Cully Hamner designed some. The ones that don't suck.