Comics 411 02.12.14: Comic Book Relaunch Edition!
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 02.12.2014
Is DC's New 52 the most important comic book relaunch ever? Plus news and thoughts on big reveals coming in Batman #28, Ghost Rider's new look, Marvel gearing up for X-Men: No More Humans, a review of Wolverine #1 and more!
Welcome back to the Comics 411! My name is Steve Gustafson and this is a corner of 411mania reserved for those interested in talking comics! As always, I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to read and comment last week. Check out my interview with Playboy's Miss November, Gemma Lee Farrell!
And away we go...
This went viral but I thought it perfectly capture the unadulterated feeling of amazement when we are first introduced to superheroes. I'm pretty vocal about my thoughts on superhero films. I believe they should be less for adults and more for kids. Especially Superman. For most of us, Superman was our introduction to this comic book world. Man of Steel is not a film I would classify as kid friendly. I'm no saying we dumb down superhero movies but they should be more welcoming to the new generation of fans.
Like this guy.
Best Comic Book BAD GUY Origin. This one caused some stress and confusion among you. Who has the best villain origin? These were the options and results:
Two Face 13.53%
Dr. Doom 6.32%
Mr. Freeze 5.44%
Green Goblin 2.65%
Lex Luthor 2.21%
Red Skull 1.32%
Magneto takes the top spot with Joker coming in a close second. My vote went to Dr. Doom, who finished with a sad 6%. But the best stuff came from the comments. Some of you really felt strong about Joker. And Magneto. And these polls.
Dandelion: "Look, I love the Joker and all. But he can't have the best origin if he has no origin. That's just a cop out. And even if you accept the Moore origin, it's not really that interesting. Pretend to be the Red Hood, wife coincidentally dies right before falling into a vat of acid, go crazy. Can't say there's much of an interesting character arc there."
alley rat: "What about Sinestro? He was the best of the GLs. He fell from grace after doing what he thought he had to do to police and protect his home planet. He's the best kind of villain, he doesn't think he's the bad guy he's willing to do what he thinks is right. The blue guys and Hal were shocked with his controlling rule, evoking the old notion that power corrupts. After being stripped from the corps he became their biggest threat and made his own corps, started the war of light, unleashed Parallax from the battery."
Benjamin J: "If we're going by the 90s Animated Series origin, I say Mister Freeze. Dini and Timm took a marginal mad scientist Batman rogue from the golden age and made him a tragic, sympathetic, but still terrifying supervillain. And hey, it even won them an Emmy. The origin was so good that the comics adopted it as canon (till recently, thanks a pantload, New 52)."
redhotrash: "Gotta go with Two Face on this list. Most Batman villains have pretty dark origins, just like Batman himself. It just happens that they ended up villains while Batman went the other way. It'd be pretty cool if things had gone only slightly different and we had like Mr. Freeze hanging out with the JLA. I'm also a fan of Doomsday, just a retelling of Frankenstein's monster."
Patrick Sharkey: "These polls are starting to become more on popularity than the topic at hand i think. How can Joker have the best origin , when he has no origin?"
D2Kvirus: "Preacher had some amazing villain origins in the Saint of Killers and Herr Starr that deserve consideration. Alter Tse'elon from Y: The Last Man too."
Dr. Doctor: "It's a shame Bane isn't getting more respect. Born in, growing up in and becoming king of a hellish prison. Intelligent, strong, ruthless."
%_* "Not really a fan of origin stories for villians. They tend to be lazy and rob a character of their power. Like unmasking a character robs them of their mystique. I just don't buy "if this one thing would have gone differently I would have been a swell guy". I can buy a villain thinking that, but it's too simplistic. I like when characters are defined by personality and not events.
For example Magneto. Being a holocaust survivor not only evokes sympathy but gives his argument credibility. Problem is it makes him hard to write.Thats probably why he's one of the most inconsistently written characters in comics. He's defined more by the holocaust and his opposition to the x men then his personality.
In a lot of ways I think Demona from Gargoyles is a better Magneto than Magneto. Like Magneto she has a tragic back story and has a point. But unlike Magneto she is partially responsible for her situation. It was her paranoia that lead to her clans massacre and its her inability to take responsibility that keeps her in the villians camp. I also dig she shares her origin with the heroes wish more villians"
"Some I like that aren't getting as much love.
Jason Todd- I love this one because we saw it happen as it happened. It wasn't supposed to be an origin and the hit was ordered by the fans and in the end was probably more painfull for the hero then the villain.
Loki- You're a prince. Not just a prince but the son of the Head God in Charge. Not a problem in the world. Well, a little one. Everyone loves your brother more. You work harder. You're smarter. Thoughtfull. Hell you probably would be a better leader then him. He is kind of a brute. Too bad you live in a society where that's a good thing and that emo magic shit you do is kinda fey. Oh by the way you're adopted. Don't worry we still love you even if you are one of those disgusting Ice Giants. Oops we shouldn't have said that. No, you're not just a political prop youre really every bit our son that Thor is. Just not as good."
Jeyh "Can't give it to the Joker on this one, Two Face does it for me. Supposed to be the example of justice in the hands of the people. His accident just sends him off the deep end and he remains just if you win the coin flip, but he might flip it again."
paulmccrary: "Two-Face has a much better origin than Joker. He starts off as a good man who is broken by the corrupt system and his own weaknesses make him evil."
RavenTazECW: "I always thought that the point in which Magneto became the villain he was to be was after the war had ended and he tried to start his life with his wife and daughter, but the villagers treated him as if he was a monster after witnessing his powers and burned down his home, murdering his daughter who was trapped inside. He knew the Germans who put him and his family into the camps were evil and needed to be fought against, but seeing people who opposed the Germans also being against him for being a mutant, and killing his daughter as a result, was what drove him into being a villain. To him, all of humanity was evil because anyone was capable of being prejudiced against mutants."
Nicholas Adam Villarreal: "I have to go with Two-Face, specifically the origin that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale cooked up. Somehow, I prefer to think of him as a murderous vigilante whose scheme to rid Gotham of every last criminal he could by killing them on holidays - or simply prosecuting them in court - eventually leads to his physical and mental deformation, as well as the loss of his wife. It's much better than the tragic character origin that we saw elsewhere (even in the DCAU). Of course, we have seen moments where the man is somebody with whom you can empathize (No Man's Land, where Dent was helping clean up the mess that Gotham had become, was an interesting twist). No matter what, he's one of the most well-rounded villains in all of comics, and how he became what he became is an incredible piece of story telling."
lorddarias: "I'm a fan of the psychologist/psychiatrist becomes a bad girl villain types. So my vote or votes go to Harley Quinn and Moonstone. Moonstone a little more as in (acquiring) the Moonstone Gem from her patient and then using her position as a psychologist making numerous depressed patients kill themselves while she watched is some pretty messed up stuff. Plus she's smoking hot and sleeps around. And I just happen to like Harley Quinn."
KipSmithers: "I won't go into the ones discussed here. So from what I've read, Superboy Prime's origin(as a villian) sounds really messed up."
paulmccrary: "Magneto's not really a villain. Hell, he led The X-Men for quite a while."
Crosshairs: "Batman just doesn't interest me, and Joker is one of the lamest villains ever. If you want compelling origins and stories, anything from Marvel is better."
GoodnDrunk: "I have to say that the weekly polls have been pretty crappy. Almost every winner has been featured in a big screen movie recently and I feel that the results will always favor those characters. A better way to conduct future polls would be to allow people to rank the characters from best to worst. This will even the playing field and produce more accurate results."
BigDirty: "Can I ask something here- I always thought the Joker origin was questionable. i know there have been some comics that have tried to give him an origin bu tthose have been rebuffed either by the character or by a diffrent origin. Typically he has fallen into a tank of chemicals and it made him crazy. he is the best comic book villain and I think his lack of consistant origin makes him even more interesting.
Of the list, I think Harvey Dent has the best origin. he was a fleshed out character as a good guy being a popular DA and being the law abiding version of Batman. His tragic turn to Two-Face via Joker (acid flower) and his change to two-face is teriffic."
duh: "Magento was by far the best one up there. while all of those are great villains they dont have particularly compelling origins. Professor Zoom, Black Adam and Dark Beast have much cooler origins than either of those listed"
CyberVenom: "Here's my top 10 best villain origins:
8. The Saint of Killers
7. The Mandarin
6. Dark Phoenix
3. Mr. Freeze
2. Two Face
APrince66: "Gotta go with Magneto here. The whole holocaust thing... man thats some powerful stuff."
E. E. Faulk: "My vote goes to Luthor. His origin is so underrated as he didn't need personal tragedy or incredible superhuman powers to become what he is. In that way, he's one of the greatest examples of human ambition in comics, moreso than Batman or other human characters. Not only is he the ultimate embodiment of self-obsessed ambition, but the greed and insecurity he has drives him to take on the most powerful being on thte planet. Seriously, take that in: a man refuses to acknowledge anyone as his superior, and is willing to prove it against forces he can never hope to comprehend or control, armed primarily by his wits and an empire he built from the ground up. Even against the likes of Superman, Brainiac, the JLA and others, Luthor manages to hold his own (and sometkmes even triumph) due mostly to his own intellect, drive, and there-from-the-start refusal to be anything less than number one. If he wasn't a homicidal, ego-driven sociopath it would actually be kind of admirable."
SonicRulez: "Magneto. What better encapsulates the message of X-Men than a Holocaust survivor wanting to prevent his people (mutants rather than gypsies this time) from suffering like that again?"
OrangeChapeu: "Joker's origin, regardless of the context, is and always has been "fell in a vat of chemicals and went crazy" which always struck me as super generic. Even if you choose just the killing joke as his origin, the whole desperate man turns to crime and regrets it thing is pretty generic too. Plus, who wants to see the joker as a sympathetic character?"
gooched: "Joker? What origin? The killing joke one? I've always like the fact that he had no origin. Magneto is the winner, you could tell his origin to anyone, comic book fan or not, and it will intrigue them to the point of them being intrigued by his entire character motivation. It's powerful."
Rey Henry: "magneto, his orgin doesnt sound like that of a supervillian. if you ever read it, you would think he would grow up to be superhero."
craig L: "Magneto hands down."
Whew! I didn't even post the replies to a number of these comments! But thanks for your input. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping the polls the way they are. People have the right to vote for who they want. That's why we vote. Like most things, it DOES become a popularity contest. People like who they like. That's why we have a comment section so you can voice WHY you voted the way you do, in a respectful manner. I'll say this section has been great in that regard.
OK, this week we're taking it in a new direction. The comic book relaunch. I feel it's safe to say that the majority of you are against them. But looking back, we have been treated so some pretty cool relaunches. NOTE: TO VOTE IN THIS POLL, I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU READ THIS NEXT PART!
Giant-Size X-Men. This one is a no-brainer. With the absolute domination and success of the X-Men, it's hard to wrap your head around a time when they weren't popular. Believe it or not, there was a time between 1970 to 1975 when Marvel's Uncanny X-Men title was filled with reprints because of a lack of sales. Giant-Size X-Men #1, released in 1975, relaunched the team by adding characters like Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus to the group. This relaunch, written by Len Wein with art by Dave Cockrum, led to a younger, mostly-unknown writer named Chris Claremont taking on the title. Claremont's 17 year-run, which included countless spin-offs that expanded Marvel's mutant universe to one-time flagship status, helped redefine comic book storytelling in the mid '70s and defined nearly all of the X-Men mythos.
Then you have The Dark Knight Returns/Batman Year One. Two classics by writer/artist Frank Miller. These two titles relaunched Batman in 1986-1987 and gave way to the darker version of the Dark Knight that we know today. After Crisis on Infinite Earths rewrote DC's history, Batman: Year One became the official in-continuity version of the Dark Knight's origin. Written by Miller with art by David Mazzucchelli, the story helped launch the Modern Age of comics and gave us the term "grim and gritty". Which leads us to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo with their current "Zero Year" storyline, updating Batman for the New 52. DC Comics' The New 52 is one of the biggest gambles in recent years. DC Comics not only did away with most of its continuity but renumber several of the longest-running titles in comic book history. In September 2011, every single DC Universe comic was replaced with a new #1 issue, with 52 new ongoing comics launching in the same month. The move is still paying dividends for comic book retailers, and even other publishers. Industry-wide sales remain the strongest they've been in years and analysts credit The New 52 for leading the current upward trend.
So where does that leave Showcase #4? Don't sleep on this one. Showcase #4 relaunched The Flash and was the first of many relaunches that ushered in the Silver Age of comics. Superheroes, which had dominated the world of comics in the late '30s and early '40s, declined in popularity after World War II. To boost sales, publishers turned instead toward stories of crime, horror and romance. Public hysteria about the effect of these comics brought the Comics Code Authority and publishers turned back to the superheroes with a twist to give them a more modern spin. Enter The Flash. Where Jay Garrick was once The Flash, DC gave readers a new Flash named Barry Allen. In the following years, DC published more and more relaunched superhero titles, leading Marvel Comics to do the same and saving the superhero genre for future audiences. Would we have ANY of our current relaunches without this one? Like Green Lantern: Rebirth? The Green Lantern franchise is one of DC's biggest hits right now, with numerous ongoing comic book titles, a slew of toys, a recent animated series, and a film franchise perhaps still possible in the future, depending on how Batman vs Superman pans out. Go back to 2006. Green Lantern was cursed with low sales and DC handed the reins to writer Geoff Johns. Johns had the task of bringing back Hal Jordan and re-introducing the Green Lantern Corps. The vast universe of new concepts he ended up introducing to Green Lantern jump started more than just the comics. These multicolored concepts became the backbone of the character's launch into film, TV and beyond. The relaunch also gave superstar status to Johns, who spearheaded several DC events and eventually ascended to become Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment.
But what about Marvel? Heroes Reborn/New Avengers stands out. These Hollywood darlings sit on top of a $1.5 billion franchise. That's not even counting the solo films, future spin-offs, and the upcoming sequel. You can say these relaunches helped pave the way. In 1996, the Heroes Reborn event relaunched titles for members of The Avengers and Fantastic Four into new comics that were outsourced to the studios of artists Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. The attention of this move boosted sales and shined the spotlight on titles that weren't named X-Men or Spider-Man. Yes, the Avengers titles were floundering and Captain America and Iron Man were often overlooked. The Avengers got another boost in December 2004 when writer Brian Michael Bendis completed the franchise revival when he "disassembled" the former team and brought characters together under a new banner, New Avengers. The successful sales move not only led to multiple Avengers spinoff titles, but it brought Bendis into the creative center of the Marvel Universe. Would Marvel Studios have risked launching of the Avengers movie universe if not for the recent success of the comic book titles?
You have to also give credit to Joe Quesada and Marvel Knights Daredevil. In 1998, the long-running Daredevil title was relaunched by Marvel Comics as part of a brand new imprint called Marvel Knights. While the relaunch was a success, the comic's importance lies in its contribution to the editorial career of Marvel's current Chief Creative Officer, Quesada, and the role its success played in a new era at Marvel Comics. Daredevil's relaunch, with filmmaker Kevin Smith writing and Quesada drawing, was one of four comics that were outsourced to Quesada's Event Comics company in 1998 as part of the Marvel Knights line. The titles dealt with more mature themes than the regular Marvel Universe, and the outsourcing meant Quesada had control over the talent hired to create them. The successful launch of the Marvel Knights line and the popularity of the Daredevil relaunch catapulted Quesada's editorial career, but also contributed to the character's film adaptation. In 2000, within two years of the relaunch at Marvel Knights, Quesada was named Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics. He served in that capacity for a decade, guiding Marvel to its current status as industry leader across multiple media.
This might look like an easy poll to vote but you really have to consider the ripple effect each relaunch created. Some are bigger than you think. Did I miss any? Vote and comment below!
Batman! Word around town is you should pick up Batman #28 today. "I'd say that you're going to learn who the new Kingpin of Gotham is. You'll learn the fate of Harper Row, and see her in costume for the first time, as the character she'll become." That's what Scott Snyder told DC All Access when asked for some spoilers, confirming that the female in what looks like a Nightwing costume is in fact Harper Row, the young girl who has shown up periodically throughout Snyder's run on Batman. He also placed the issue, saying the story takes place between issues 39 and 40 of the series - a full year out from where they are now.
Vertigo editor Mark Doyle confirmed that he is now pulling double duty as the Batman Group Editor at DC Comics, the position recently vacated by Mike Marts, who moved over to Marvel Comics. Doyle made the announcement on Twitter, and noted that while he's taking over Batman, he'll also remain as editor of Snyder's American Vampire and The Wake at Vertigo.
Green Arrow! It's been one year since Jeff Lemire took over Green Arrow, changing the hero's world across the board. In the last two issues of Green Arrow, readers found out that the character's father SPOLER is alive, and he's the reason Ollie went to the island to become Green Arrow. Lemire gave an interview and here are the highlights:
On the plot twist: "The reveal at the end of #27 wasn't always part of the plan, but I knew Robert Queen would be important to the book in some way as I moved forward. Things began to crystallize when I started work on The Outsider's War."
On the look of Robert Queen: "Well, it's a fun nod to pre-52 Green Arrow, obviously, but it's more than that. It evokes an older, more confident version of Green Arrow, and as a result, it gives this new version's sense of legacy weight. Also, with Robert taking that look, it says once and for all that this New 52 Ollie will not go back to that version. He needs to become his own man...become something new."
On Ollie's role in Justice League: "Martian Manhunter will look to Green Arrow to be a leader to a lot of the younger characters in the book. And having been so young and irresponsible himself prior to "The Outsider War" and my other stories, this will be a switch for him. He has to be the adult now with characters likes Stargirl and Supergirl looking to him for leadership."
Ghost Rider!Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore have redesigned the Spirit of Vengeance for the upcoming All-New Ghost Rider comic series from Marvel. "Editor Mark Paniccia approached me with the idea of creating an All-New Ghost Rider. It was suggested that this new character be younger than Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch and that, instead of the traditional motorcycle, he drive a car," says series writer Smith, who also draws comics. "Some might have been shocked (or even outraged) by the latter suggestion, but, as much as I am a fan of the original Ghost Rider, I was 100% in agreement with it."
All-New Ghost Rider isn't replacing the other Ghost Riders already burning up the streets of the Marvel U, but rather adding a new one to the fold. Smith says that's important, and that decision allowed he and Moore to innovate on this new Ghost Rider. "Johnny Blaze, the original flaming skull anti-hero, is still lighting up the freeway, very much active with the Thunderbolts, so there was absolutely no reason to imitate or replace him," Smith explains. "Our All-New Ghost Rider needed his own signature look and his own signature ride."
Series artist Moore was brought in after the initial idea for All-New Ghost Rider was formed, and said that the character's history informed what he and Smith did to design the character itself. "Robbie Reyes is a young Latino American from East Los Angeles with a passion for electronic music and all things motor vehicle related, so I knew that we were going to be developing a completely different Ghost Rider here, both in story and design," says Moore. "This new direction and the prospect of working with Felipe were my primary interests with the comic."
Smith says that Marvel approved the visual design of Robbie Reyes' human look in short order, and that after that he and Moore started independently sketching ideas for the Ghost Rider form. "Robbie is an automotive fanatic, a gear head at heart and mechanic by profession. Putting a blower on his forehead and exhaust vents on the back of his head just made sense," Smith explains. "These elements were based off the vents on a racing helmet both Tradd and I were referencing. We both chose the same style of helmet without prior discussion and had the same type of cars in mind for Robbie as well; a great sign that we were definitely on the same page!"
What do you think of the new look?
Valiant! What Do You Read First?" That's about all that's on this teaser from Valiant Comics, though it does also offer up a date of May 2014. Valiant has previously run their "Must Read Valiant" initiative, offering up discounted first issues (and even trades) of their various series, in order to give fans a chance to check out something new. This "Valiant First" could be a continuation of that, or it could be something entirely new.
No More Humans! Marvel Comics is offering a new first look at the Mike Carey/Salvador Larocca original graphic novel X-Men: No More Humans in movie trailer form. According to the publisher, the OGN "gathers Marvel's most popular mutants for a in-continuity story spinning out of X-Men: Battle of the Atom. "For years, the X-Men have dreamed of a world safe from humans. But now, their dream is about to become their worst nightmare. When all the world's humans mysteriously vanish, it's up to the disparate factions of X-Men to come together, get to the bottom of the mystery and find a way to bring humans back. But do all the mutants want their human brethren to return?"
Do YOU want to be a reviewer for COMICS 411? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how! Take it away, RobF!
Before we get into the review, I want to give a special THANK YOU to Rob for consistently providing comic book reviews, week in and week out. He gets it to me early and they are always a great read.
Normally a #1 issue is a great starting point to capture new readers and illicit some excitement.
In this case I don't think either was accomplished.
One of the major faults of Wolverine #1 is that you have had to be reading the previous series to follow the current storyline. I found myself searching out a summary of past issues to try and get caught up. Reading this without past knowledge is a difficult task for any new reader.
Another issue I had was the Wolverine's loss of healing. While alone it could be an interesting storyline (ripped directly from the movie?) it is quickly replaced by an indestructible suit of armor. If that's really the case, why take his healing factor away? One interesting thing is how Logan will have to change his fighting style to compensate for the new status quo. I think the introduction of a gun is part of that.
As the story begins we find Wolverine in league band of generic superhuman youths committing a heist. This group is under the employ of a man called the Offer, who is interested in farming out Logan's skills to Sabretooth. This doesn't make any sense because there's no indication of what led to this new status quo in the first place. Paul Cornell is taking a big leap of faith here but I don't think he's built up the equity with the readers to pull this off.
Ryan Stegman creates a visually pleasing piece. His scratchy, kinetic style is the perfect match for this sort of story. Wolverine has a new costume but I wish it were more bulky to underscore Wolverine's new need for an armored outfit
Overall I found Wolverine to have the same problems that made me drop the titles previously: Great art weighed down by subpar writing. I didn't find any reason to pick up issue 2 but with the Superior Spider-Man on the horizon I may flip through it the next time I am in the comic shop.