ONE YEAR LATER
This week, I'll be taking a detailed look at DC's listings in the latest PREVIEWS catalog. Specifically, I want to run through the titles involved in the "One Year Later" event to see if any of the new directions sound worthy of my time and money.
The Batman titles have beautiful gray toned covers from Simone Bianchi. Very well done. With Leonard Kirk on DETECTIVE COMICS #818 in April, it's enough to make me think twice about not purchasing the books. It's still not enough, though. I learned a long time ago that buying a book just for the artist isn't enough. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with James Robinson's writing skills, but they just don't catch my fancy at the moment.
ROBIN #149 has a cover that seems to indicate that Batgirl has given up the ghost, or is a ghost, or something. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it. No, I'm not. Read the solicitation text, which would constitute a major spoiler combined with that cover. Hunh. While part of me is curious about Batgirl's fate, the rest of me can't get excited about this one.
NIGHTWING #119 moves Dick Grayson to New York City. Wait a second -- since when is there a NYC in the DC Universe? I thought DC stuck to made up cities like Keystone and Metropolis and Gotham. Even the countries are renamed to things like Qurac to avoid real world entanglements. Is that changing post-CRISIS, or am I just overreacting and forgetting some obvious piece of DC lore here?
SUPERMAN #651 and ACTION COMICS #838 are the third and fourth parts of a storyline from Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek with art by Pete Woods and covers from the Dodsons. That checks all the boxes for "Guaranteed Collection By Year's End," so I'll be patient. Woods' run on ROBIN is one of that series' highest points.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #26 isn't a "One Year Later" story, but it is an interesting piece of work. It features a story from Jeph Loeb's late son, Sam, with art by a bunch of his friends -- little names like John Cassaday, Joe Madureira, Jeff Matsuda, Jim Lee, Tim Sale, Art Adams, and Ed McGuinness. If that wasn't enough, there's a short story at the end from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale set in the SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS style. It's a 40 page issue for $3.99, and definitely one I won't be waiting for the hardcover on. For more behind-the-scenes scoop on the issue, check out Loeb's interview on the Word Balloon podcast.
Greg Rucka is writing SUPERGIRL now, with art still by Ian Churchill. I know this isn't a popular opinion to have in critical circles, but I like a lot of Churchill's art. I might pick up a trade of the first six issues of this series when one comes out, and Rucka's writing always piques my curiosity. Put this on the watch list, particularly if it can stick to a schedule.
AQUAMAN: SWORD OF ATLANTIS #41 is a no-brainer. Kurt Busiek is writing it and Butch Guice makes his return to monthly art duties with this series. Sold. Busiek wins again!
I fell behind on BIRDS OF PREY last year and let it go from my reading stack. "One Year Later" might give me a nice jumping-on point to the series if I wanted to rejoin. Gail Simone is still writing it, though I don't recognize the artist's name. This one merits a quick flip on the stands.
BLUE BEETLE is a series I do want to read, mostly on the strength of the writers, Keith Giffen and John Rogers. Cully Hamner's art doesn't hurt, either. It's just a question of timing. Will I pick it up with issue #1 next month, or wait for a trade down the road?
FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MAN should interest me more, given how much I enjoy Jamal Igle's art. I have no interest in the character, though. While Stuart Moore is a solid writer, I can't think of anything he's ever written that's excited me. I'll keep my reading list pared down somewhat by not starting in on this one.
GREEN ARROW has Scott McDaniel and Judd Winick, but the thought of Winick writing Oliver Queen as a politician scares me away. Too much politics, too little of which I'm bound to agree with. I'll save myself the heartburn.
I've never cared about HAWKGIRL, but putting Walter Simonson and Howard Chaykin in charge of the book certainly gives it an energy that is exciting. I think I'll wait for the trade, but I'll definitely look at it.
SOLO #10 isn't "One Year Later," but it does feature the fantastic Damion Scott's artwork. He is the Batgirl artist in my eyes, and the series never fully recovered from his departure. It looks like he'll be doing stories set in the DCU for the book.
There are a few other scattered "One Year Later" titles in the listing this month, but I didn't have much to say about them. I'll keep on ignoring them. DC just about completely lost me in the midst of this CRISIS thing, but the "One Year Later" titles have a chance to grab me for three or four extra books a month, I think. We'll see how it works out.
WHAT I'M READING
My local comic shop owner -- that would be Dan at Dewey's Comic City in Madison, NJ -- asked me what I'm reading these days. I had to take a second to think about it. When last we talked, I was picking up random graphic novels and translated European albums from the back of his shop, along with the usual assortment of the week's releases. When I look at my reading habits for the past couple of months, though, I realized something surprising:
I'm reading more monthly titles right now than I am trade paperbacks. Though I love the new trade paperback economy and still throw a lot of money at it, the majority of my reading right now is done in 32 page increments with a couple of staples. I use the "wait for the trades" excuse, I think, more and more as a way to drop certain series from my reading list without making an immediate decision. I'm only fooling myself and my wallet, I suppose.
I look at what I read and what I reviewed last year, though, and see that I really did spend a lot of time with the spined books. In the past couple of months, that's begun to change. I think there are two reasons for it:
First, the monthly "pamphlets" are easier to read now than ever. Having dropped so many titles from my pull list in the past couple of years, I'm reading less and remembering more. My weekly purchases are of the books I'm most excited about. I don't lose the details of those books too easily. I don't have to read the last three issues to "get" the fourth. Details aren't so quickly lost.
Secondly, it takes less time to breeze through 22 pages of story than it does 144 pages. When I do have the time to sit and read 144 pages, I find it more enjoyable to spread the love across a variety of genres and storytelling styles. More often than not, I only get to sit down with a comic for ten minutes. That's not enough time to devote to an original graphic novel.
I'm beginning to think I'm schizo. I love trades, but I hate reading 'em. I'm waiting for the trades on series I never intend to read or buy. I can't wait to go to San Diego, but I can't stand the thought of setting it all up. (More on that in a bit.) It's a very curious week.
STILL NO LUCK IN THE AIR
My misadventures in airplane travel are not limited to comic book conventions.
A couple of weeks ago, I flew down to the Bahamas for a family reunion. It's an interesting place, including an airport that has a live band playing while you wait in the customs line and a free bar just after. There's plenty of Bacardi Rum to go around before hopping in a local taxi.
I flew out of La Guardia in New York City. Of the three local airports -- Newark and JFK being the other two -- it's the most rickety, but also the cheapest. Being an international flight, I arrived at the airport two hours earlier than the 8:30 departure time. It was bad enough to wake up at 4:15 in the morning for an 8:30 flight, but it only got worse.
The flight boarded more or less on time. Then we sat in the plane, going nowhere. Waiting in the plane is always the worst possible scenario. On the way home, the flight was delayed by a couple of hours due to bad weather or something in between the Bahamas and New York. That wasn't so bad because we got to wait in the terminal and not stuffed inside a plane.
In any case, the captain finally made the announcement to all passengers that things were delayed because they couldn't shut a cargo door. A few minutes later, they announced that the crew was unloading all the baggage in that hold and transferring it to another while they fixed the first cargo bay. That only took 20 minutes, but it was time well spent. After all, who wants their baggage filled with bathing suits and suntan lotions flying out of a plane over the Atlantic Ocean?
Once that finished, the captain returned to the airwaves to tell us that the maintenance crew had to do some paperwork, but then we'd be on our way.
I felt like I was back at work, being delayed from doing anything productive due to paperwork.
It took an extra 15 minutes to complete that paperwork. It was pushing 9:30 before we finally pushed out of the gate and onto the tarmac.
The captain returned again to continue his role as "Bad News Giver." Due to the delay with the cargo hold, we were now leaving in the middle of the morning rush. We were in line to take off, but we were the 25th to go. Each flight takes about 90 seconds to take off. You do the math. It wasn't pretty and we didn't get in the air until roughly 10:00.
In other words, I woke up at 4:15 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. flight that didn't take off until 10:00 a.m.
With that kind of luck, I thought there was going to be a comic book convention at the other end of the flight.
Speaking of which: San Diego gets serious next week when the hotel reservation system goes live. I'm so not looking forward to this that I'm seriously considering skipping the con. It's ridiculous the hoops you have to jump through to get a decent hotel room. And I still think that it's the key to a successful convention. I've done the con where I had to walk a mile back to the hotel room at a place where the elevators rarely worked. I'm not going through that again. If the convention wants to continue to grow to the size of a small galaxy by adding in mostly Hollywood stuff, then I'll find another easier-to-attend convention to go to each year.
But, you know what? Talk to me next week. I'll have completely changed my mind by then. Maybe.
In the meantime, the New York Comic-Con is coming up in a few weeks and looks to be "the real deal." The guest list and programming schedule is outstanding. The trick at this point is to get this level of support from the industry after the inaugural event. It's easy for everyone to come out and support this one -- but will they come back year after year? If a guest list of this caliber can be repeated next year, it will become a force to be reckoned with.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Be sure to check out George Khoury's wonderful remembrance of Mike Parobeck at Newsarama this week. As a Type 1 Diabetic, myself, for the past 19 years, it's my ultimate fear to go the way Parobeck did. I think I'm lucky that I became diabetic early enough in life that I didn't know enough to ignore it or rebel against it.
- A story broke this weekend that the L.A. police department is looking at new technology which would allow police to tag automobiles suspected of foul deeds. If a car flees, the police could fling one of these things -- laser guided, to boot -- at the car. The tag has a small GPS device in it, so the car could be tracked by satellite, rather than chased through the city streets.
Surely I'm not the only one who thought of the Spider Tracer when he heard this, right?
- Let's play another round of "Comics or Gaming?" Which industry did this person who said this quote come from:
You know the internet/forums and blogs are a strange place. If I went online right now and said the sky was blue, 100 people would probably tell me to STFU noob or argue with me and tell me I'm not a weather man.
Click here for the full story.
- I've been tracking down the absent final issue of Avatar's ROBOCOP mini-series for the past couple of weeks in this column. Sure enough, it shipped last Wednesday.
This comes hot on the heels of my complaining about a lack of ASTONISHING X-MEN hardcover goodness the week before Marvel solicited it.
And, then, I asked in a recent podcast after Humberto Ramos. It was a darn shame, I said, that he wasn't getting more mainstream work, as beautiful as his REVELATIONS mini-series was. Sure enough, he's drawing WOLVERINE now.
Are there any other hanging questions on your minds that I can take care of for you? E-mail me and let me know.
- I read ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #89 this week. I look forward to the day when a big business leader type isn't either (A) horribly evil or (B) inept, inadequate, and born into the job.
There are a few business leaders out there who work 12-plus hour days, travel like mad, and get to the top through decades of hard work. You won't ever see a one of them in a comic book, but they do exist. Someday, we might see one, instead of a lazy cliche.
Next week: I have no idea.
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