Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DC Punts

OK, so everything I wrote earlier today is irrelevant. Sorry. Timing is everything.

The facts: DC will be re-numbering all DC Universe titles starting with #1 in September. Please note, Justice League #1 will debut on August 31, so as I predicted, Flashpoint #5 will NOT be the only release that day. I win that one, at least.

In a USA Today article, Dan DiDio declares

We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line...This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience.

CBR reports that in a letter to retailers, DC VP of Sales Bob Wayne said the massive reboot:

will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character's legend -- but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph. Some of the characters will have new origins, while others will undergo minor changes. Our characters are always being updated; however, this is the first time all of our characters will be presented in a new way all at once.

Let me translate. DC's co-Publisher and Senior VP of Sales are out and out telling you that their current stories are NOT being told for today's audience, the the current DC Universe is not modern and not diverse, that the marketplace has said that the comics they publish need new life.

Has there ever been a more thorough admission of failure? "People don't like the comics we're publishing, they're not at all relevant, so we're going to start over." As if the comics that were allegedly lifeless and and irrelevant and not being told for today's audience were somehow being published by elves or fairies, and not by the exact same people making this announcement. The new product will be much better than the old product!! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Oh, yeah, and new costumes:

In the 70s we had the DC Explosion, followed by the DC Implosion. Well, now we've got the DC Punt. "We have seen the enemy, he is us, and we're shifting the whole line to Ultimate DC."

Obviously, more to follow.


Let's begin by noting that, like many of my previous flights of hypothetical prognostication, there's no possible way that this is right. Aside from the fact that I'm an idiot, I have no contacts with anyone at DC Comics, and I possess no insider knowledge of any type. I will admit up front that I am 100% certain that this is wrong. This is all just fanciful speculation on my part, unsupported by anything. So take it with a full shaker of salt.

Of course, one of the big hubbubs around the comics internet right now is "what the hell does DC have planned post-Flashpoint"?

A number of factors have created the buzz. DC's solicitations stated that only one book, the final issue of Flashpoint, would be published the final week of August, because of that book's "impact on the DC Universe." From those same solicitations, virtually every other DC title seems to have its current storyline concluding in the August issue. Everyone at DC and the grandmothers have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements, and given the industry's penchant for leaks and hints, DC personnel are being remarkably close-mouthed. And on June 11th, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will be making "bombshell announcements about the future of Superman and the entire DC Universe," conveniently just before the September solicits are released.

Well, the non-hype hype has worked like gangbusters, because the lack of anything to respond to has led to speculation gone wild. DC will re-launch everything, and have new #1 issues for all titles--maybe with a full reboot! DC isn't going to undo the new reality of Flashpoint--that's going to be the new DC continuity (at least for awhile)! DC is going to put all new creative teams on every book! DC's going to announce they're no longer publishing monthly single issues!!

[UPDATE--Timing is everything. DC just announced today that they're renumbering the entire DC line at #1 in September...that doesn't necessarily preclude any of the other potential changes, though...]

And of course, there are the responses to those theories. They'll never lose the numbering on Action or Detective! They can't do that, because it would mess up what Grant Morrison is doing in Batman Inc! They wouldn't revive all those characters in Brightest Day just to do a reboot!!

Well, Geoff Johns has said "All I would say right now is that the speculation hasn’t been wild enough. The last thing anyone should do is to hold back their imagination." All right, Geoff, you asked for it.

My friends, based on absolutely nothing more than a hunch and a gut feeling, I think DC is going to undo Crisis On Infinite Earths.

There's a couple of reasons I think this. The reason often given for COIE in the first place--DC's continuity was too convoluted and confusing--doesn't really seem that valid anymore (if it ever was). First, in this internet age, any continuity questions a reader has can be answered in seconds. Secondly, the average fan base is growing older, and in a media culture where alternate universes are a much more common concept, the thought that readers can't handle "this occurs on Earth-1, while that occurs on Earth-2" is kind of quaint. Third, the continued successes of Marvel's Ultimate and Max lines show that the market can deal with separate continuities within a company.

And of course, on one level, a bunch of fans never really accepted Crisis, and were never satisfied with the "new" continuity that DC established. Certain characters just couldn't be comfortably "fixed"--Hawkman, Donna Troy, Wonder Woman, Power Girl, or who the hell was in the original line-up of JLA--and were constantly being tinkered with, and entire crossover maxi-series were put together just to "fix" frankly trivial continuity issues. And the wholesale transfer of so many of DC's acquired properties into the "real" DC Universe was never smooth, with characters like Captain Marvel and Plastic Man and the Charlton heroes never really fitting in (or, at least not being particularly well-handled) and often shuffled to the sidelines by a less-than-enthusiastic DC.

Or course, many of those discontented fans went on to become comic creators themselves--and now they were in a position to do something about that discontent. Look at Geoff Johns' DC career--at times it seems as if he's single-mindedly set about to revert DC to 1985. He revived Barry Allen Flash and Hal Jordan Green Lantern. He wrote Infinite Crisis, which turned the heroes of COIE into villains and undid much of what COIE did. He co-wrote 52, in which it was revealed that the multiverse was reborn. He undid large chunk's of Byrne's Man Of Steel, returning Superboy to DC continuity, declaring any newer version of Toyman and Brainiac were really robots or probes or some such, and making sure that the original Legion Of Super-Heroes circa 1985 was the one whose continuity was followed.

And now he's writing Flashpoint, which is apparently going to profoundly change the DC Universe.

There's other indications, too, I think. After going through the gymnastics necessary to resurrect the multiverse, DC has steadfastly refused to do anything with it over the subsequent 4 years, except for the more forgettable bits of Countdown and some glorified cameos during Final Crisis. Dan DiDio has declared multiple times that they're "saving" the multiverse for Grant Morrison to play with, but there's been no sign of any project coming down the pipeline. And the only other real use of the multiverse was the JSA/Powergirl "Earth-Two" annual--written by Geoff Johns.

Yet after letting the concept essentially lie fallow for the past few years, the latest issue of Booster Gold--the only other regular DC comic to be taking part in Flashpoint--went out of its way to mention the 52 worlds of the multiverse not once, but twice. That same issue revealed that there are also no more alternate timelines, just the one--in other words, if we want a different version of DC history, we'll have to use one of the other Earths.

So what do we have? A writer who seems bent on undoing COIE, writing the series that will change everything, and suddenly, we're getting hints that the multiverse might come back into play.

What do I think? I think they're going to have COIE unhappen. No more "everybody merged into one universe and one continuity." The end of Flashpoint will see lots of heroes shifted back to other worlds--the Shazam heroes will be removed from New Earth and sent to Earth-S again, the Quality heroes and the Fox heroes and the Charlton heroes will all be distributed back throughout the universe. That way no one will have to worry how they fit in with "New Earth" any longer. And everyone can have their own Hawkman and Wonder Woman again, and we can stop picking at Donna Troy's history like an itchy continuity scab. And we can do Golden Age Batman and Superman stories without having to make them "Elseworlds," and you just know there are some people chomping at the bit to do that.

Yes, there will be some juggling and suspension of disbelief required, but no more so than was needed for the post-COIE fallout. And since DC continuity is essentially just wikinuity under current their management, they really don't have to do anything more complex than they did when Geoff Johns magically waved his hands while chanting "Superman really was in the Legion Of Super-Heroes as a teen." It worked for him. And for anyone who requires more, well, that's what those September issues will be for, whether they're all #1 or .1 (it's not like Marvel can trademark that, right?) or double-zero or whatever.

Now, do I feel this would be a good idea? Heck no. I'm all for moving forward, for embracing history but keeping momentum going in a positive direction. Even if you believe the COIE was a huge mistake, accept it and move on...or else you eventually end up with Pam finding Bobby Ewing in the shower, and you lose all credibility and respect with your creative audience. Besides, Zero Hour et al show that you will never, ever EVER satisfy DC's continuity porn contingent--they'll just keep scrubbing and scrubbing like an OCD sufferer who never thinks the floor is clean.

But then again, I'm completely wrong here, and DC really isn't going to undue COIE...are they? So we shouldn't worry...right?!?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Manic Monday--An Important Message

A tip on how to best enjoy the end of your long weekend:

No problem, guys.

From The Tandy Computer Whiz Kids--Fit To Win (1988)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Let's Play Carmen San Diego, Shall We??

As you know, I'm kind of obsessed with the geographical location of DC's fictional cities (as is my friend Siskoid). So when I come upon actual data in an actual DC story, you know I'm paying attention.

In Batman: Gotham Knights #1 (2000), Dick Grayson is tolling down the highway on his bike, and we see the following sign:

After taking Robin's call, he does a quick U-turn and...

We should acknowledge the following caveats: A) These are road signs, so this is driving distance, not "as the crow flies" distance, and there can be some considerable differences based on how much meandering various highways do. B) Many highway distance signs are notoriously poor approximations C) This is the DC Universe, so of course things there may not be located exactly where they are on our Earth...(particularly if you buy the Busiek Hypothesis. In Avengers/JLA, Kurt Busiek revealed that the DC Earth was larger than the Marvel Earth, and hence had more surface area, and thus more room for all these fictional towns.)

So, given those limitations, these signs tell us:

**Bludhaven and Gotham City are about 40 miles apart.

**Gotham is between Boston and Baltimore. And the distances are right: Google Maps has the driving distance between Boston and Baltimore at approximately 400 miles. So the signs, which have Gotham 100 miles from Boston and 300 miles from Baltimore, make sense.

**So, given that Gotham has a port, and assuming that it's not in the middle of the ocean; that's it's in a generally southwesterly direction from Boston; given that it's about 300 miles from Baltimore, and 100 miles from Boston; and moving little markers around on Google Maps...

We can conclude that Gotham City is most likely in southern Connecticut (with a slim possibility that it might be in Rhode Island.

Case closed.

Next up: finding a story where someone is driving between Metropolis and somewhere...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Self-Awareness Saturday--Spider-Girl #7

Spider-Man comments on a recent addition to the Avengers line-up:

Thank you, Paul Tobin, for having Spider-Man express the opinion that you would have thought he'd express in an issue of Avengers. Of course, that would have involved characters in the Avengers actually interacting and having characterization beyond comedy routines and such...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bat In Black

I think anyone taking a closer look at this cover...

...has to smack themselves in the head when they realize...

...that young Bruce Wayne spent time as the lead guitarist of AC/DC!!

All part of his crime fighting training, no doubt.

Who Knows Batman's Secret Identity? The Shadow Knows!!

I know I like to kvetch about how unsecret Batman's secret identity is, and how everybody and their grandmother seems to already know it.

But according to Denny O'Neill, even 1930's pulp heroes know it:

But Batman's not worried, because he's got the hugest man-crush on the Shadow:

From Batman #259 (1974).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate!

Normally something this cosmic would require the presence of the Watcher, but we'll have to make do.

But have you ever wondered what if Lady Gaga and Godzilla were in the same universe?

Great, now I'll never get that dang song out of my head...

Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh and Phil Hester fundamentally change my life in Godzilla Kingdom Of Monsters #3

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Women! Am I Right, Fellas??

While this has become, quite unintentionally, Pick On Pym Day, let's not spare the Winsome Wasp, shall we?

Janet has captured a thief who has stolen Giant-Man's costume and embarked on a crime spree. And now it's time for the threatening interrogation:

Wait, what?


So, which is more horrifying--Janet suggesting that woman can casually break oaths, Janet not believing it but willing to use that sexist stereotype as a means to an end, or the crook being such a sexist idiot that he actually believes it???

Oh, Stan...

Janet hasn't come a long way, baby, in Tales To Astonish #62 (1964)

Marvel's Identity Crisis

Since we're picking on Henry Pym today, let's look at an instance where he did his own version of DC's Identity Crisis...40 years early!!

We start with Pym being Pym:

Unfortunately, his above average oafishness was observed by "Second-Story Sammy," a loser of a burglar:

PRO-TIP: If you want to have a secret identity, don't carry around business cards with your real name on them. I'm just sayin.'

Well, after a rousing adventure wherein Sammy steals Pym's Giant-Man suit and engages in a series of growing/shrinking burglaries, he's caught. But given the chance, he doesn't spill Giant-Man's secret identity to the press. What gives?

"Just happened to have some memory-loss serum lying around"?!? Memory-loss serum?!?!?! So potent that it turns crooks straight??? Playing judge and jury on his own, just to selfishly protect the secret identity he would abandon eventually anyway?

Hank Pym--making Zatanna look ethical!!

From Tales To Astonish #62 (1964).

Hank Pym Was Always An Idiot

Yes, I've given Hank Pym a lot of crap for being a crap scientist and human being--inventing Ultron, multiple nervous breakdowns, generally being a stupid jerk. But well before Ultron, well before his first (of several) breakdowns, Pym was already an idiot, even back in his early days.

Here he is testing out his brand new formula to accelerate plant growth:

Twenty seconds, and already things are out of control. Typical Pym experiment...

But it's all in how you define the terms--it's not that's he's failed, it's that he's been "too successful"!!!

So, let's see...he tested this formula before he had thought about the possibility of an antidote...and now it's raging out of control and about to destroy the city. Yeah, doesn't sound like the Ultron situation AT ALL.

"Avengers-type karate blow"??

But once again, the line between brilliant scientist and raving lunatic who almost kills everyone is merely in how you define your terms:

Yep, it's not that he was terribly reckless and a crap scientist and jeopardized everybody's life in a dubious and uncontrolled experiment--nope, it's that he "succeeded too well."

Hank Pym--he was always an unstable putz.

From Tales To Astonish #62 (1964)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Promise To Make No Prince Fielder Jokes This Post

You what we all need to learn more about?

Special athletic undergarments for fat kids, that's what we need to learn about!

Tubby not only looks funny, he's also apparently unfamiliar with the concept of sliding!

But Tubby is feeling the effects of being...well, tubby:

Fortunately, his unnamed teammate has some swell advice:

"Action-ized "?? Well, it rhymes with "slenderize," so I guess it make sense!

And so...

Chicks dig thin guys!! And yes, little known fact: wearing a girdle can make you run faster!

"Detachable crotch piece"??? "Detachable crotch piece"?!?!?!?!?!?!

So...someone in the returns department has to process all of these athletic girdles that fat kids have been sweating up for 10 days? Ewwwwwwwww.......

Of course, for all that talk of "send no money" and "on approval," the actual mail-in form tells a very different story:
Ahh, so now it's "I pay $1.98 up front, and then have to wait for a refund"? I smell a false advertising lawsuit here.

But at least I can order EXTRA detachable crotch pieces!! 3 for $2?? Who could pass that up???

Of course, this ad is pointless today, because modern medicine and nutrition have completely eliminated any ballplayers who might be considered "tubby"...

Damn it!! OK, I almost made it all the way through without a Prince Fielder joke...maybe next time.

Ad from Tim Tyler Cowboy #17 (1950).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Manic Monday Bonus--Yeah, That's the Ticket!!

Fact: Batman is a terrible liar!

Scene: Batman is pretending to be a guy who is pretending to be Batman...OK, that's confusing. Blame the Silver Age!

Long story short, some con men are trying to scam wealthy yachtsman Ned Judson by posing as Batmen. The "real" Batman has decided to throw a wrench in their plans by pretending to be the fake Batman #1.

However, the Caped Crusader just isn't very comfortable lying, it would seem:

And even after a couple of days, Batman is clearly not very polished at this lying business:

"Eh? Oh...yes...er...sure...sure..."??? Really? It makes you wonder how he can ever pull off Matches Malone.

Clearly, Batman needs some lying lessons from these guys:

From Detective Comics #222 (1955) as reprinted in Batman #259 (1974).

Manic Monday--Inflation

From the Ask The Answer Man column in JLA #169 (1979):

Yeah...$7500. Yup, big money. Huge money, unquestionably.

Where the hell is my time machine? Because I've got $7500 I'd like to invest...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The ORIGINAL Batman Incorporated!!

It turns out that Grant Morrison wasn't the first to take a stab at the Batman Incorporated concept! Let's set the Wayback Machine for 1955, as Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris show us what happens when Batman needs a legion of Batmen to fight crime...

You know, "wealthy yachtsman" is another career option my high school guidance counselor never told me about! I'm also glad that Gotham has crumbling castles built by eccentric millionaires...

Well, that explains how he can be in Batman and Detective Comics and World's Finest and...

But holy crap, man...Batman dressed in a business suit, using a gong to summon all the other Batmen?? A scheme to "awe the underworld"??? What the heck is going on here?

Well, the "original" Batman reveals that one of their number recently died, so...

"Brotherhood Of Batmen" = Batman, Incorporated 55 years early!!!

Well, except for one thing:

What? What could their devious plot actually be?

They provide Judson with athletic and scientific training:

"Ex-science worker employed by the mob"??? I curse you, negligent high school guidance counselor!!

They even provide a fake crime for Judson to thwart (while the "real" Batman and Robin, having stumbled upon the scene, watch from afar):

So what, exactly, is the the criminal enterprise here? These crooks are expending an awful lot of time, energy and resources on this scheme. Why, exactly?

Really? it's just a big con game? Really???

Well, Bruce and Dick have overheard this, but the Dark Knight won't bust these mooks up yet:

So, basically, Batman refuses to break up a con game because it might embarrass the victim? Talk about soft on crime. Gotham City must be a real haven for con artists...

Fortunately, there is a plan here, as the "real" Batman poses as the "fake" Batman, and starts giving Judson real Bat-level training, and letting him beat up real crooks for real. (Yes, your head should hurt here) Then, you see, Judson was man enough to take out the gang himself when Batman reveals the truth, and hence he would be revered as a macho crimefighter, and not a schmuck and victim:

So there it all is: it's too much for one Batman to handle, so he assembles a legion of Batmen. Trouble is, it was a really just a swindle by too-clever-by-half crooks. Hmmmm...

From Detective Comics #222 (1955) as reprinted in Batman #259 (1974).