Posts Tagged ‘ DC Comic ’

Diversity in Comics- Why I’m Reading DC Books Again

Simon Baz- The latest Green Lantern

With the introduction of the new Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, DC has blown up its fresh universe by introducing a Muslim-Arab American superhero at the centre of Geoff Johns‘ intricate Green Lantern series. This is not the first time DC has explored characters from different backgrounds, as their New 52 reboot has allowed them to emphasise more diversity, shaking up the previous white male role model and female damsel in distress characters that plagued the genre’s early years.

DC has played a major part of the shift, more so than Marvel I would argue. This year, for instance, Alan Scott was introduced as the first gay Green Lantern in the “Earth 2” title series set in an alternate universe away from the main books. Away from the Green Lantern universe, one of reboot’s most critically acclaimed books, Batwoman, explored Kate Kane’s personal struggles as well as her sexual orientation which has been praised by the general public and the character from the Batman universe has often been described as the highest profile gay character to appear in stories produced by DC Comics.

It’s not a matter of what company is taking the lead in the race to push diversity, it’s which one is doing it to craft intricate stories, and not just force publicity stunts. For instance Marvel featured the first gay wedding to happen in superhero comics this year, as characters Northstar and Kyle Jinadu were married in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #51. While it’s a move in the right direction, choosing two lesser-known characters in one of the smaller X-Men titles could be seen as Marvel playing it too safely. For instance, if the wedding was met with public backlash, Marvel could have easily swept it under the rug.

Where Marvel have faired better in the past, is making their black- American superhero Luke Cage feel like an natural part of their Avengers roster. The Avengers have long been based in New York, so it was fitting they had a hero who represented a more realistic modern-day resident of Harlem. It wasn’t so much of a publicity stunt, more so a natural progression of a character. However with The Avengers movie now the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time, logic dictates the Marvel Comics universe is now built to closely resemble their movies. For the meantime that presumably means, Luke Cage takes a backseat, while Marvel focus on making the public believe their new character Marcus Johnson, is the illegitimate son of Nick Fury, who grows up to look like Samuel L. Jackson and later turns out to be named Nick Fury himself. Forget diversity, it’s just cheap storytelling.

One character I’m really looking forward to see further developed is Cyborg from DC’s main Justice League title. What’s stopped me reading Justice League in the past is that it long felt like it was stuck in the past in terms of characters. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all came from diverse backgrounds for sure, but in terms of appearance, they all resemble typical white superheroes. With the New 52 reboot, writer Geoff Johns added Cyborg, who had previously been mainly featured in the Teen Titans group, to the main Justice League roster. While initially Cyborg’s inclusion seemed as if he primarily existed within the Justice League to act as their teleporter, upcoming plans reveal there’s more to come from Victor Stone.

If there’s one lesson Marvel can take from DC in how to reboot successfully, it’s focus on story and not what’s happening in other media. With no major films to resemble (yet), the DC reboot has been free to create interesting stories for characters from all different backgrounds. There’s still room for improvement, it would be nice to see a female Green Lantern soon, and perhaps some more emphasis on characters like Supergirl. For now though, the New 52 reboot has me reading DC books again.

 

Bucky Barnes Is Not Dead (Continued)

Bucky

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You all knew this was coming. Based on the overwhelming response to my previous article on why I think Bucky Barnes is not dead, I have decided to explore some of the theories presented by readers as to how Bucky returns. As readers of Marvel’s comic book event Fear Itself will know, Bucky was (supposedly) killed defending his friends from the new Red Skull. Given the character’s enormous popularity, it seems odd Marvel would kill Bucky off so cheaply, so I’m convinced there is more to come from the former Winter Soldier.

1) The Blackest Night Theory

As DC comic fans would have surely noticed, there are some uncanny similarities between DC’s Blackest Night and Marvel’s Fear Itself event. Blackest Night had black power rings corrupting fallen heroes, where as Fear Itself has magic hammers corrupting those who can wield them. What’s interesting is that Blackest Night ended with a mass resurrection of fallen characters. Fear Itself looks to be heading the same way. One reader pointed out how the son of Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, Franklin Richards could be the one to resurrect Bucky. Franklin is yet to show the potential of his reality warping powers. Given that he was one that freed The Thing from his enchantment, there’s a good chance we’re going to see Franklin involved with the end of Fear Itself in someway. My only concern with this is that a supernatural resurrection for Bucky would be weak compared to his brilliant resurrection in the Winter Soldier arc. A supernatural resurrection wouldn’t appear too weak; if it was that the defeat of the Serpent brought everyone killed by hammers back to life. It’s very Blackest Night, but it could work.

2) The Life Model Decoy (LMD) Theory

This is another theory that readers have strong confidence in. The idea is, is that Bucky was never killed by the Red Skull (Skadi). Instead he put a life model decoy in place to fake his own death. This theory makes the most sense considering Bucky had become a wanted fugitive after his crimes as the Winter Soldier were released to the public. Given that he was sentenced to prison in a Russian Gulag, Bucky’s death would free him from the law, and allow the character to return to his more black-ops style. He also has a strong association with Nick Fury, who made usage of LMDs famous in the Marvel universe.

3) The Super Soldier/ Russian code word Theory

What if Bucky was actually given a dose of the super soldier serum back in WW2, but it was kept secret so that he was able to do the killings Captain America couldn’t be seen doing. It would further explain how he was able to survive the original explosion that blew his arm off and sent him into the sea. It’s a long shot but it could work. Another suggestion was that Barnes has a pre-programmed OFF switch left behind from his Winter Soldier days. The switch would render Barnes’s body to near death state, making it look like he had died.

So there are the main theories as to how Bucky returns, but apart from the wishes of fans, what more is there to suggest we haven’t seen the last of Captain America’s former sidekick. Well, there are unanswered threads from Bucky’s Gulag story arc. Before his escape from the Russian prison, Bucky discovered that there were Soviet sleeper agents that he trained as the Winter Soldier still in existence. It would seem odd for Steve Rogers to hunt these agents down, so I’m sure there’s some sort of Bucky/Winter Soldier miniseries on our way.

One reader also pointed out something very interesting. Could the new Cap & Bucky series be connected to an upcoming Winter Soldier arc? The new Cap & Bucky series has a mysterious narrator that’s set to be revealed soon. This narrator comments on Barnes’s life just like Bucky did. Credit to Brubaker, this would be a fantastic plot twist, as I’m sure we’re going to find out that Barnes is well and truly alive.

So there are my theories as to how I think Bucky survives. Marvel has taken a lot of criticism in recent years for their over-usage of character deaths and status-quo shifting events. Considering the amount of mediocre characters (Cable, Jean grey, Wonder Man), that get killed off and later revived, it only makes sense that Marvel bring back one of their most popular characters in an effective way for a change.

Why Fear Itself Has Failed

Logo of Marvel Comics

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It’s been a huge summer for the comic book industry. DC have been busy with their super event Flashpoint, which paved way for an all new reboot for the DC universe, while Marvel have returned to their mega crossover events with Fear Itself, written by Matt Fraction. Whilst DC’s Flashpoint sent the old DC universe out with a bang, Marvel’s summer event has been met with universal criticism.

The problem with Marvel’s events recently, is that they are always promised to be status- quo changing events, which are usually met with pointless character deaths. Sadly this is the case with Fear Itself. One of Marvel’s most popular characters, Bucky Barnes, was killed just to add some gravitas to the story and get Steve Rogers back as Captain America in time for his new movie. When every reader knows that Steve’s going to become Captain America again upon witnessing Bucky Barnes’s death, it really takes way any emotion from the book. When a storyline contains one of the most hated comic book clichés it’s bound to struggle.

What’s also confused me is that Matt Fraction was quoted, way before the first issue of Fear Itself was released as declaring he hates comic book events that come with hundreds of tie-in books. While Fraction promised a story that can be read in seven issues, what we’ve actually received is a story that still feels like it hasn’t taken off, even though the event is coming to a close next month. If you want to see how Steve Rogers reacts to the death of his partner Bucky Barnes, you’ll have to wait for a post Fear Itself tie-in. Did you want to see how Avengers such as Hawkeye, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman reacted to what was going on? Better go back and read the Avengers and Spider-Man tie-ins. If you only read Fear Itself’s six issues, you would probably be left feeling underwhelmed. In other words, you need plenty of cash to get the complete story.

Regular reader of DC comics would have noticed huge similarities between DC’s Blackest Night event and Marvel’s Fear Itself. Problem is, DC did it better. Where Blackest Night flourished with a dramatic story and fantastic tie-in books, Fear Itself suffers from a bland story and an overkill of tie-ins. Blackest Night resurrected several fallen characters at the end of its story, who’s to say Marvel won’t do the same. After all, Bucky’s got to come back somehow.

Another factor contributing to the failure of Fear Itself, is Marvel’s decision to release all their post summer 2011 plans way before Fear Itself has concluded. It kills any momentum for the event, as we now know who survives and where the Marvel universe is heading all the way into 2012. Where’s the need to read Fear Itself if you now that the heroes are going to win, and move on to the next pointless cross over event straight away? It’s a really flawed marketing technique. Teaser posters are great, but anything beyond that is overkill.

To conclude, despite being drastically over-hyped, Fear Itself has failed because it’s insignificant. We already know how the Marvel universe ends up when the event concludes, and what storylines are heading our way in the near future. It almost feels like Fraction deliberately killed Bucky just to give the event some more significance. Lets hope Marvel’s next storyline ‘Shattered Heroes’ gives Fear Itself the significance it so desperately needs.

What Characters Won’t Benefit From The DC Comics Reboot?

Damian Wayne as Robin. Promotional art for Bat...

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As I mentioned yesterday, the DC comics reboot is creating a large buzz in the comics industry right now. With 52 titles hitting stores next month, DC is going full out in their attempts to bring in new readers. The relaunch will surely benefit characters such as Superman and Green Arrow, who have long needed an overhaul. However, there are sure to be some characters that don’t benefit from the relaunch, and just who do I think they will be?

1) Damian Wayne (Robin)

The Batman and Robin series is one of the lucky few titles able to escape total relaunch. Instead, the title will be given a sense of restricted continuity, where old readers will be able to follow the new books fine, whilst the revamped title will also serve as an entry point for new readers. With Bruce Wayne back as Batman, he is set to battle evil alongside his son Damian. Having Damian as Robin in the relaunch might not be DC’s greatest idea. For many readers, Damian is a marmite character. Some say he’s a badass assassin who adds a whole new dynamic on the Robin character, whilst others say he’s nothing more than a bratty ten-year old. I enjoyed his dynamic with Dick Grayson as Batman, but with Bruce back as The Caped Crusader, it’s definitely going to have a father/son theme, and unlike the interesting reverse dynamic between Dick and Damian, it’s fairly easy to see where Damian and Bruce’s relationship is heading. Only time will tell if Damian gains more or less popularity after the reboot.

2) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

The Green Lantern books are in no danger. Writer Geoff Johns constantly delivers one of the best comic book series on the shelves. Older fans aren’t going anywhere, now that fan-favourite Sinestro is back in the picture. The only problem is, Hal probably isn’t going to benefit from the reboot at all. The likely hood is any potential new readers for Green Lantern would have already seen this year’s disastrous movie on the character. Whilst I’ll admit, the Green Lantern movie did not do justice for such a great character, but it’s likely left a stink in any one’s mouths looking to know more about Hal and Corps. Some say movies don’t really influence comic book sales massively, but I have a feeling the Green Lantern series won’t benefit from a massive influx of new readers.

3) BatGirl (Barbara Gordon)

Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl in a series that see’s her facing old secrets and new villains. Regarded by many as the definitive Batgirl, the decision is to put her back in the role has likely pleased many fans. I personally feel it’s a shame we won’t be seeing her as her wheel chair bound Oracle character anymore. I mean this in the sense that, Barbara represented a minority that rarely gets any treatment in comics. Her story of coming from being shot by the Joker, to becoming one of Batman’s most valuable allies, giving him crucial support from the Bat-Cave was a welcome break. Having Barbara back fighting crime (no matter how DC explain her recovery) seems a little cheap, and it’s personally thrown away any interest I had in her character. The new Batwoman series starring Kate Kane looks far more appealing, and it’s a horror/espionage tale that will likely make Kate the preferred female Bat character on the shelves.

So there you have it. These are the top three characters I feel won’t benefit from the DC comics reboot. Their books won’t crash and burn by any means, but with such high expectations on the first two I mentioned, if new readers didn’t flock in, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another shake-up in the future.

What Characters Will Benefit From The DC Reboot The Most?

Grant Morrison at San Diego Comic-Con 2008 day 1.

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With the DC comic revamp just around the corner, I’ve decided to look at what characters might benefit mostly from the shake-up. With a huge 52 titles set to be released in September, DC is showing that they are serious about their characters, and I for one can’t wait.

1- Superman

Superman is the character most affected by the upcoming reboot. With a new origin, and a new costume, DC attempts to modernize Superman for the 21st century. Starring in three different series, (Action ComicsGrant Morrison, Superman- George Pérez, Justice League– Geoff Johns) Superman is DC’s top priority heading into September. With a new movie on the way, The Man of Steel needs to quickly establish a new fan base, and writer Grant Morrison describes Action Comics 1# as an action comic that recreates Superman in lots of different ways. After years of fans arguing Superman is too overpowered and incorruptible, DC have promised to show us, just who Superman is, and what motivates him to don a costume and fight against evil. Anything Superman with Grant Morrison involved is sure to be a hit (just see his work on All-Star Superman), and it’s about time The Man of Steel gets back to top spot as the world’s top superhero.

2-The Flash (Barry Allen)

To decision to put Barry Allen back as The Flash in 2008 angered a lot of people. Fans thought Barry’s nephew, Wally West had come so far in character development, and taking away the Flash mantle from him was a bad move. In my opinion, apart from some stand out moments in Blackest NightBarry has yet to make the Flash his own again. Well, now’s the time for Barry to justify why he’s the definitive Flash, and what better way for him to do it then when a close friend becomes a an all new villain who can be everywhere at once.

3- Green Arrow

With Marvel’s archer Hawkeye currently getting all of the attention, now couldn’t be a better time for Oliver Queen to get himself a new series. “Armed with cutting edge technology and illegal gained Intel, Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.” What I love about Green Arrow is that he’s morally ambiguous. He is a fairly right-wing hero, who isn’t afraid to put villains down for good in certain circumstances. With the new reboot putting Oliver Queen back to basics, hopefully new readers will realise just how interesting Green Arrow is as a character and that a Robin Hood look alike beats a guy in purple spandex any day. DC just needs to avoid making Green Arrow too similar to Tony Stark, and I’m sure this series will do wonders for the character. Did I mention the fact that his bow now has blades at both ends?

4-Nightwing

When Haley’s Circus (the circus where Dick once performed) returns to Gotham, along with murder and mystery, Nightwing must confront his past and face new and old enemies. Dick Grayson never really fitted the persona of Batman. His acrobatic fighting style, and his upbeat personality didn’t exactly install great fear. With Bruce back as the Caped Crusader, Dick returns once more as Nightwing. The reboot has given Grayson a new black and red colour scheme for his suit, which indicates DC intend on making Nightwing the coolest character in comic books again. Hopefully his new series will have plenty of action, and a hook up with Barbara Gordon not too far down the line. Marvel have proven former sidekicks such as Bucky Barnes can be just as popular if not more so than their respective heroes, so hopefully DC will have the same success with Nightwing.

So there you have it. These are the top 4 characters I think will benefit most from the DC comics revamp. With a whopping 52 titles set to be released, there are sure to be some stinkers, but as far as these four characters go things are about to get big. Other names such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman also have a shot at finding glory, but only time will tell. Bring on September!

Would A Nightwing Movie Work?

Cover to Nightwing #100 (2004). Art by Scott M...

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Continuing with my Batman themed posts, I’ve decided to explore if a solo Nightwing movie would work; now Nolan‘s Bat trilogy is wrapping up next year. To start with, let me explain that I do not actually think there’s any chance of seeing a Dick Grayson/Nightwing movie anytime soon. DC isn’t going to take a gamble on a lesser-known character after the disastrous result from this year’s Green Lantern. However, if the unexpected were to happen, and the movie was given the green light, how would a Nightwing movie successfully translate to the big screen?

To start with, the movie would need to be treated extremely seriously so that it can be connected to Nolan’s trilogy. Warner Bros aren’t going to start a DC cinematic universe anytime soon, so connecting at least two or their franchises together would be a nice touch. I would set the movie in the fictional city of Blüdhaven. The city can be depicted like a cross between Gotham City and the Narrows area seen in Batman Begins. There would need to be a sense of corruption and evil surrounding the place, perhaps even making it the base of the new organised crime criminals, who were beaten out of Gotham by the Batman. It can’t under any means be as glamorous as Gotham. Blüdhaven should feel like the slums compared to Gotham or Metropolis.

Enter Dick Grayson. Would Grayson necessarily need the Robin gimmick as for Grayson it did come before he took on the persona of Nightwing? The Robin gimmick wouldn’t work unless he was a sidekick to Batman. It definitely needs to be a more adult Nightwing flick. The story could follow a teenaged Dick Grayson, inspired by the stories coming from Gotham about the Batman. The real task lies in creating Dick’s character. As readers of the comics will know, Dick is not necessarily a dark character. He’s actually one of the more light-hearted allies to Bruce Wayne. So Grayson shouldn’t be as dark and broody as Batman, but he shouldn’t be a wise cracking Spidey rip-off either. His origin in the circus should be kept, as it’s the only logical reason to explain his acrobatic fighting style that is essential to the character. Grayson’s origin should be that he was raised in an orphanage, only to run away during his adolescent years searching for the criminals responsible for his family’s death. Would the comic book villain Tony Zucco (who is responsible for the death of the Grayson family) be the main villain? I’d rather use a pre-established criminal such as Sal Maroni (providing he’s not dead already) who was last seen in a car crash in The Dark Knight. That way it ties the films together and adds some much needed depth to the Sal Maroni character.

Grayson is quite a ladies man in the comics, and that’s the hardest thing to translate onto screen without damaging the overall tone of the film. I’m a big fan of the The Huntress character (who had a great scene in Batman: Hush), and although she’s not an original love interest for Dick in the comics, she could be Nightwing’s answer to Hit-Girl. A young woman who uses a variety of gadgets and weapons she steals from criminals. Unlike Catwoman though, Huntress is more reckless and careless. If Batman has Catwoman, Nightwing should have Huntress.

And lastly, who would direct it? At the risk of sounding delusional, I’m going to say Frank Miller. A Nightwing film needs a director who can capture the serious tone of the film. Whilst Gotham’s been getting all of the attention, its sister city Blüdhaven has been ignored and left to ruin. The legend of the Batman needs to be a recurring theme throughout the film as it’s what will drive Grayson throughout his crusade. Miller would capture that perfectly, whilst adding some real importance to Nolan’s films.

It’s a shame Warner Bros own of all DC’s cinematic properties. Under their ownership I really doubt that we’ll ever see a Nightwing movie. Perhaps if DC gave some of their properties to other studios we might eventually one day see Nightwing fighting crime on the streets of Blüdhaven on screen. Do you think Nightwing deserves his own movie? How would you do it? As always leave your comments below.

*Update* (July 23rd 2012)

Spoiler alert: The ending of The Dark Knight Rises hints at the John Blake character (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) taking on either the mantle of the Batman, or his own costumed persona. Blake taking up the mantle would be an interesting way to continue the Nolan Batman franchise without resorting to a total reboot now Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have gone. What do you guys think? Do you want a John Blake Nightwing film, or would you prefer a fresh Nightwing movie, more based on the comics?

Emotion In Comic Books

Steve Rogers' presumed death. Art by Steve Epting.

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It’s summer time, meaning both major comic book outlets, Marvel and DC have their annual crossover events in full motion. DC is providing a truly special event in Flashpoint, whill Marvel is putting out the lackluster Fear Itself. With summer crossover events, some characters will likely be killed off in order to add gravitas and emotion to the story. This year comic book deaths have gone into overdrive as Marvel have killed off The Human Torch, Bucky Barnes and Ultimate Spider-Man, and the question I ask is, what’s the point?

Comic book deaths rarely generate any type of emotion. This is largely because the dead character will likely be revived in a year or two, as the publishers can’t resist keeping a character dead as they can’t profit from dead characters. Take the death of Captain America in 2007. Originally perceived to be a story representing post 9-11 hysteria, the world was shocked when Steve Rogers was gunned down. This was an actual comic book death that had emotion. It was realistic and gritty.  Steve Rogers had fought for his civil rights during Mark Millar’s mega-event Civil War, only to be gunned down after surrendering on the steps of the courthouse. It was a comic book death that literally symbolized that America was being governed by hysteria and chaos…

Yet all that drama and gravitas was retconned in 2009 in Captain America: Reborn. Marvel took their most effective character death, and retconned into a time traveling adventure. Instead of being dramatically gunned down, Steve Rogers was trapped in time after being hit by a special time bullet. In a single stroke any emotion surrounding his death had been destroyed. The same can be said for his former partner, Bucky Barnes, who took up the mantle of Captain America when Steve was gunned down.

Recently (spoiler alert) Bucky Barnes was struck down and killed by the Red Skull‘s daughter Sin. Marvel expected fans to be shocked and they were, at how poorly Bucky’s death had been executed. For one of Marvel’s most popular characters, Bucky’s death has hardly been featured in any comic books since Fear Itself #3. Not even the recently re-launched Captain America comic series mentioned his death. It seems Marvel literally killed Bucky off to get Steve back in the suit.

DC is no better though. Bruce Wayne was apparently killed in Grant Morrison‘s mega event Final Crisis, only to be brought back to life through time travel. To add to the sell-out, Bruce will be returning to the mantle of the one and only Batman, as Dick Grayson reverts back to Nightwing in the DC universe  New 52 reboot come September. DC have also pointlessly recently resurrected the Golden Age Flash Barry Allen. What confuses me behind this retcon is that the modern Flash Wally West had become a far more engaging character than Barry ever was.

Why can’t DC and Marvel limit the amount of comic deaths so that the death of a character becomes more significant? If both publishers keep promising character fatalities to promote their events, any integrity of the books will soon diminish. DC is pushing the panic buttons by rebooting. It’s a safe choice, but things look bad for Marvel. They could be going down a slippery road. They butchered the once outstanding Ultimate Universe by handing it over to Jeph Loeb, who killed off nearly every character for shock value in the disaster known as Ultimatum. Mainstream Marvel has killed off their most interesting character just to coincide with Captain America: The First Avenger.

Marvel need to slow down with the comic book deaths, or it won’t be too long until fans start calling for a total reboot. The existing universe can still be salvaged, but both outlets can’t keep using character deaths to promote their events. It’s become nothing more than a cheap gimmick.