Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Open Letter to DC Comics From Merlyn the Magnificent

Hey DC,
It's me, Merlyn. Merlyn the Magician (and by "magician" I mean "archer"), Merlyn the Magnificent, Merlyn the Assassin, Merlyn the Archer-for-Hire. You may also have heard me referred to as "Black Arrow", like say maybe if you've ever talked to that dead guy over there with the arrow sticking out of his eye.

But I'm not here to talk about what gets me off. I'm here to talk about your disgraceful treatment of your hot, hot property that could, if used properly, be helping propel your Emerald Douchebag Archer from zero to flaming explosion of kickass: that's right, ME.

Pictured: Sexy beast.
Not pictured (but totally just off-panel): hookers, private jet, cocaine.

Let's just cut to the chase, people: a hero is only as good as his villains force him to be. We're THE most important accessory that a successful superhero comic book can boast. We stir up trouble, create conflict. We give your hero something to do, a reason to be a hero in the first place. We give him something to strive to be better than. We constantly get better, come up with new plans, just so that your hero has to improve his skills and learn to think faster and better. We add depth to the book, what with our complex backstories and motivations (...HA.). We threaten his loved ones to both show how far he'll go, and to help him draw the line that he won't cross.

More importantly, we're the foil that helps define your hero's personality, both in his own mind and in that of his readers. When we're better than him, or always one step ahead, you have to pause long enough to ask yourself: how does that jerk hero always win? What qualities does he have that the villain lacks?

Quality Green Arrow has that I lack: a giant vagina

At least, that's the idea. All the biggest and best heroes are defined by their greatest villains. Don't believe me? Imagine Superman without Lex Luthor's influence. How about Batman without the Joker, or Catwoman, or... hell, he has a lot of fruitcakes over there, all of whom seem to have their own damn fanclubs on DeviantArt. (Where's mine, people? My face should be everywhere! Look at this hair! Do you think I take two hours every morning to style it this way so that people can ignore me?)

Or how about Green Lantern? That's hot stuff right now. When did it start to get hot? Right about the time that his greatest foe started a war that was so awesome IT WAS NAMED AFTER HIM? (I could start a war. We could call it "Arrowmageddon", or "Shaft Wars", or just skip to the end and call it "The Day Merlyn Won...Again")

Or even the Flash. That guy's got his very own Rogue's Gallery that's so iconic that they, and everyone else, actually calls them "The Rogues". Even when Boring Flash died and Mouthy Flash took over, the Rogues stayed. When Annoying Flash came along, the Rogues were right there. Geriatric Flash has fought them. The Flash Brats have fought them. Hell, Boring Flash is back now, and if it weren't for the Rogues, he wouldn't have done anything in his first six issues except drink coffee, angst about his mom, and keep forgetting to bone his hot wife. Without the Rogues, Flash is nothing.

You know what Green Arrow has?

Other than herpes, I mean.


Or... he should have me. Except that you keep wasting me in a way that no villain has been wasted since the debut of "Darkseid On Ice"!

Look, we're perfect for each other. I have every quality a company could want in a proper arch-villain:
I was his sort of his inspiration. Even though he didn't get forced to learn archery until later, I was wowing him (and his mom, totally) with trick shots when he was just a baby brat.

I'm better than him. In my very first appearance, I kicked his ass in a competition publicly. Sometimes, when I'm really high or am still recovering from the last time Black Canary booted me in the skull (sometimes I can't tell the difference anymore), I tell him he's surpassed me. Ignore me when I say this. It's a lie I have to tell sometimes because I'm not so cruel that I want to totally kill a guy's ability to have an erection.

I'm his foil. He gave up a fortune so that he could fight for the little man without being a hypocrite, and I murder people in the name of money. He hates corruption, and I once sold my soul to Neron. (Seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Yet we have just enough qualities in common to make him look at me and wonder and whine and angst the way heroes do: "Am I really all that different from him? Could I become that?" (No, he couldn't. I'm way better-looking.)

This is me, lulling Black Canary into a false sense of security.

I have the badass pedigree, too. I've done more evil, with less remorse, than a lot of lameass villains out there. Why do people always forget these things? I blew up Star City! No, not this last time with the forest and the Lanterns. No, not the time before that with Prometheus the Child-slayer (why did I not think of that?). But before all that! I set the charges myself, forced Green Arrow to watch while I blew up the house his kids were trapped in, then set him up so that he'd have the perfect view of the city as I set off the chain of explosions that turned Star City into nothing more than rubble and refugee camps for over a year. And I teamed up with a rapist to do it, too. Nice guy, that Light. Good taste in facial hairstyles. Too bad you wasted him, too!

Oh, and remember how I killed Green Arrow? ...Okay, apparently he didn't die, but he should have. You copped out on me, jerks. I put two arrows through his chest, people -- two of his own arrows all the way through -- and then you decided to skip a year without ever explaining how he managed to not-die even though I was last seen standing right next to him and there was no help on the way. You really think people believe I just walked away? Gave him some first aid, maybe? Honestly?


I even narrated like half of Identity Crisis. Does that mean anything to you? Out of all the bad guys they could have picked -- including the bad guys who were most instrumental to the storyline, like say Doctor Light, or Captain Boomerang -- they picked me to be the voice of the dark side. Me: professional, cold-blooded, and smart enough to end up neither dead nor retconned when all was said and done.

How could you waste that momentum? That was my chance to become somebody, to really show the readers that I was a force to be reckoned with (which automatically pushes my arch-nemesis to the same level just by association)!

Still lulling. Note beautiful eyes despite vicious assault by woman clearly out of her mind.

But not only did you do nothing with that, or with anything I did after that... you last left me in about the lamest state possible with that ill-concieved Cupid storyline. Don't get me wrong -- chick gets obsessed with Green Arrow and decides to win his heart by offing his greatest villains for him is a pretty good plot, considering his history with women. (Note to Cupid: listen, bitch, the "obsessed with Green Arrow" position around here is filled. By ME. You took an arrow -- big deal, rookie. I have a whole damn shrine! Touch my man again and I'll claw your eyes out.)

Problem is, you had this inexperienced little tart run around Star City, somehow successfully killing off Green Arrow's entire rogues gallery... thus not only depriving him of all of them and all the painstaking development of said gallery tackled in the previous volume of the book, but also sucking credibility right out of the ones who survived. Like me. Really? If some random chick who was nothing but an abused housewife two issues ago can kidnap me, drug me, and slit my throat, who the hell is going to believe that I'm a credible foe for a member of the damn Justice League?

If I recover from the throat-slash with my voice intact (they said I probably wouldn't -- and you can't have a silent arch-enemy, especially if you're Green Arrow, whose mouth is sort of his trademark), and somehow also recover from the brain damage you guys said it might give me, I'm gonna have to start back at the bottom of the villain ladder again. That sucks. I haven't been assigned to contract-kill Brownie Scouts since I was like twelve years old!

But that's where you left me. How long has it been since I've been seen now? Two years? Something like that? Last seen lying in a coma in a hospital bed. Me. Green Arrow's Greatest Foe.

That's a really long time to wear a catheter, you guys.

So ditch this lameass storyline with the forest and the crazy guy who thinks he's a knight and the... I don't know, who else is in this book these days? The Ghost of Ollie's Mommy? Whatever. Ditch it, and get back to what Green Arrow does best: administering justice to guys like me on the streets of Star City, with his super annoying posse of people who hit me in the face a lot.

And bring me back.

Green Arrow needs me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Green Arrow: DC's Bastard Child

Things have been tight the past few months, and I've dropped a few titles that I usually pick up pretty regularly. Teen Titans lost me with its increased "too-old-to-be-teen-get-the-hell-out-of-my-teen-book" Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Raven presence. (They couldn't carry Titans -- what makes DC think they would improve Teen Titans?) Doom Patrol lost me when I started to realize that, with each new issue, I could no longer remember what happened in the previous issue because it was just that boring and/or confusing. That makes me sad, because it was once so enjoyable and had such potential! Secret Six hasn't completely lost me because I normally enjoy it a lot, though this most recent storyline left me a little cold. I'm giving it another storyline worth of chance before cutting it, though I admit to putting it off for a week or so recently -- it stopped being a "must-have-right-now". Brightest Day is sort of in the same boat. I'm interested in where the whole thing's going, interested in most of the characters, but when money's tight I just flip through it really quick and sometimes buy it right away, or sometimes put it back on the shelf until next week. As happy as I was to see Birds of Prey come back (after not needing to be cancelled in the first place, FU Batman!), it's touch and go with me right now, particularly after the most recent issue, where, while cementing Calculator's reputation as a badass with villains not in the know, pretty much just ruined him as a credible threat to the readers who are in the know. (Call me crazy -- I LIKE Calculator. A lot.)

My only absolute must-have-must-buy titles right now are the three Green Lantern books, and Generation Lost (which I have a love/hate relationship with -- currently at love just because of Bea/Gavril).

But no matter how much time passes, and how many books I get interested in, lose interest in, pick up and drop, there's always one that, no matter how bad it sucks (and it DOES suck quite a lot from time to time), no matter how annoyed it makes me, I always buy.

Green Arrow.

I'm not sure what it is about it. I'm not the only person with this problem, judging by the conversations I've had with my fellow fans, Overly-Friendly Gay Comic Shop Owner (whom I like) and Less Familiar Comic Shop Dude Across Town Who Insulted My Intelligence By Asking Me If I Bought my Zoom T-Shirt Because I Thought It Was Just A Yellow Flash Shirt (whom I don't much like). Green Arrow has a troubled history when it comes to having and supporting his own comic, and recently things have been worse than usual.

Let me break down how the history of how Green Arrow as a publication tends to go (roughly):

Green Arrow has own comic!
Green Arrow sucks, gets cancelled, possibly dies.
Green Arrow gets re-imagined, possibly gritty, possibly with team-up, gets new comic.
Green Arrow sucks, gets cancelled, possibly dies.
Rinse, repeat.

And yet... and yet...

No matter how bad it sucks when it sucks, I can't ever drop it completely. No matter what happens, or how angry it makes me, I always stick around, hoping for it to improve, hoping for it to get better, hoping for it to become the comic that I know it can be. I can't let go. Ever.

And I think a lot of Ollie fans struggle the same way. I think DC itself seems to struggle the same way. They have the Big Three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Then they have their satellite titles that round out the five big DC "families": Green Lantern, which is on a clear high right now, and Flash, which is traditionally lower-performing than the rest but always stable, always respectable, with a solid fanbase of its own. Flash is on the rise right now.

Green Arrow should be the sixth big property. It has all the hallmarks of the rest of the biggies: a recognizeable character with a distinct personality, a readily-available cast of characters who clearly fit into the "family" and nowhere else, a long history to draw from, and its own city, which is pretty much a requirement for being a big name in the DCU.

Yet DC constantly drops the ball. Green Arrow floats around, directionless, without purpose, attracting writers who by and large either don't love the characters enough (all of them, not just Ollie), don't know what to do with them (likely and understandable given the circumstances), or would apparently rather be working on something else. I can't recall the last time I read an interview where a Green Arrow writer spoke passionately about Ollie and his mythos the way that, for instance, Geoff Johns speaks about Green Lantern and Flash. And while I realize that not everyone can be like Uberfanboy Geoff "I don't know if I want to be Hal or have Hal's baby" Johns, it saddens and disappoints me that the most enthusiastic Arrow fan at DC seems to be Judd "Build something up and tear it right back down for the LOLz" Winick!

Like the old Earth saying goes, I guess (thank you, Sinestro, for paying attention to stuff Earthpeople say even though I can't really imagine you doing so): if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

So, in my attempt to start being timely about my ranting/blogging, the next week or so is going to be "Fix Green Arrow" week. I've given this a lot of thought, and I have a plan: what's wrong with Green Arrow, piece by piece, and what I'd like to do to fix it -- to bring Ollie up into the spotlight where he belongs, next to his DC brothers Hal and Barry.

I'm very interested in thoughts on the matter from GA fans and haters alike.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Retro-Action Dolls! Uh, I Mean Action Figures!

At last! The DC Retro-Action Superheroes are on store shelves!

For those of you who don't know, the DC Retro-Action Superheroes (...I just typoed that as "Superherpes") are new toys made to look and feel and... well, pretty much BE the old toy/dolls put out by the MEGO company back in the 70's. In fact, if I recall correctly, they were actually designed by some of the people who designed the original MEGOs. These new ones are manufactured by Mattel, and the first wave -- Superman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern Hal, and Sinestro, are available right now at Toys-R-Us. There's also a Green Arrow, but he's only available as an exclusive through (and is currently sold out). I also saw some on the pegs at several of my local comic book stores this weekend, so if your Toys-R-Us fails as badly as mine usually does, you can check there instead.

Of course, I bought Hal and Sinestro -- Sinestro a couple of weeks ago, and Hal just today. Now that I have both, I thought I'd give a little review!

These guys are roughly 8-9" tall -- or about a head taller than the Blackest Night figures, which are supposed to be 7". This puts them out of scale with pretty much every single other thing on my shelves, but I find that I don't mind too much. They're something special! I haven't broken either of mine, but I wouldn't rate them very highly if I was rating for durability. The packaging says they're suitable for ages 6 and up, but a 6-year-old would absolutely DESTROY these things in less than a minute. They're constructed exactly like the MEGOS, which means that their bodies seem to be hard plastic, their heads are kind of rubbery, and their joints really shouldn't be forced much if they stick, because they'd probably break. Pose carefully!

Like the original MEGOs, their weak point is in their torso. I'm not entirely certain, but I'm pretty sure that the articulation there is supplied by a rubber band inside the torso. Their poseability is good, and they stand up just fine on their own, but trying to get them to stop slouching is frustrating. The rubber band almost always forces them to either slouch or bend a little backwards, and it takes quite a bit of fooling around to get them to find a happy, normal medium. They have good articulation considering that they're retro toys -- the head turns, shoulders, wrists, and legs have full (if occasionally a little sticky) range of motion, elbows and knees bend, torso tilts and swivels -- but honestly, I don't care what the fanboys say, these things are more like dolls than they are action figures. And, while I was definitely not a girly-girl as a child and hardly ever played with Barbies, I had friends who did, and you know what the first thing a child does when they get a Barbie doll is? That's right -- they undress it. I undressed Sinestro post-haste, and I was impressed by what I saw. ("That's what Arin said!") They didn't just stick a purple head and hands on a generic body. He's actually purple all over. And the musculature on these things is way beyond what you would expect from a toy that, at first glance, seems cheaply-made. Their muscles are accurate, and heroically-proportioned without looking like they've been shot up with steroids (yes, I'm looking at YOU, JLA Classified line!). In fact, the Sinestro is almost perfect in that he's fit but skinny... sort of what I'd expect him to look like in real life. Unfortunately, as Hal's body is exactly the same size, Hal looks a little bit too slender to fit my mental image of Hal, but it works very well for Sinestro.

But the best part is the COSTUMES! They're real cloth - sort of like bathing suits, actually -- and I am very impressed with both their details and construction. One of the Hals I saw at the store had a few loose threads, but neither of mine do, and I have played with them a LOT. Both of them have what feels like vinyl bracers, and Sinestro's neck ruffle and belt are of the same material. They fit the figures perfectly, showing off that nice musculature without looking ridiculous. Both costumes fasten in the back -- Hal's has two snaps, and Sinestro's has three. I try to be careful with the snaps, because its easy to imagine them tearing loose from the cloth. The boots are rubbery, and are by far the hardest costume piece to get off, and even harder to get back on. I don't recommend taking them off. I'm serious.

I did notice one interesting thing about the boots, though...
Yes, Hal appears to be wearing green cowboy boots. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but while Sinestro's boots are perfectly modelled after his Silver Age costume, and have flat heels, Hal's have a curious little... well, I don't know the word for it, but they definitely look like cowboy boots. And they have a rather thick heel on them. Maybe he borrowed them from Guy's closet and painted them green?

And because the butt is the most important part of a Green Lantern (their brain is #3), I had to be strict in my butt review: neither of them has a very good one. This might be forgiven on Sinestro, who has not had his hiney ogled in many years and has perhaps given up on his daily glute workouts, but it definitely detracts points from Hal's score.

Shake 'em, boys!

Hal is one with the least amount of detail. As pretty as he normally is, he's still a rather generic-looking guy, so it's hard to capture his proper likeness in cheap plastic/rubber. He does have his trademark hair wave, but it's pretty flat. We can't see his eyes because of his creepy mask, and his expression is ALMOST, but not quite, a smile. It's like a Mona Lisa smile. Yet somehow, it fits. I guess because it looks like a smirk when you look at it in a certain light. The paint is applied pretty cleanly -- not perfectly, but you won't see the flaws unless you look really, really hard. His ears stick out juuust a little. I actually think he sort of looks like a young Sean Connery as James Bond, in a weird sort of way.Sinestro is a much more distinctive-looking character, so his details are easier to appreciate. Receding hairline? Check. Slicked-back hair? Check. Truly dapper moustache? Check. Evil-looking thin brows that he CLEARLY tweezes and waxes to make perfect? Check. He even has little wrinkles in his forehead that the pictures don't quite capture. He's not quite frowning in the same way that Hal is not quite smiling. His ring is properly placed on his left hand (details count!) and it's not just a molded copy of Hal's GL ring -- it's his classic yellow ring that looks sort of like a dome. His ears are pointy, his skin is not red, but PURPLE, and his eyes are quite a lovely blue (and they're painted very nicely, which the pictures don't really capture properly). In short, this is Silver Age Sinestro, just as he used to be portrayed back when he had silly Silver Age schemes like trapping Hal and Ollie inside a gemstone, going back to medieval times and wreaking havoc, and pretending to be his own dad. His old look works perfectly on a retro toy like this -- he looks like something a kid could have happily bought back in say, 1972, and then exploded with firecrackers. Contrast that with his modern look -- red skin, scary wrinkles, black eyes with yellow pupils, NO pointy ears, and half-shaved head.

My final verdict? I LOVE these toys. There's something about them that just screams "Play with me!" (and not in the Chuckie way, either). My other figures feel less like toys and more like little statues. These feel like something I want to play with until they absolutely wear out., though I'm trying hard not to do that. They just feel... fun when you hold them in your hand. My other toys are on my shelves, but these two sit on my computer desk, and I put them in all sorts of poses, and smile when I look at them.

And I make them hold my cookies while I surf the net.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Brightest Day

(Minor spoilers for Green Lantern books beginning in April. Nothing beyond what the solicits say, but if you don't like reading solicits, then go no further.)

I'm not here to talk Blackest Night. No, that's being talked about everywhere now that #7 is out, and some people have already provided some excellent analysis of the happenings in there.

I haven't been sure what exactly to expect from Brightest Day, because so much depends on how Blackest Night ends, and we don't know what's going to happen there just yet. Obviously certain people are coming back to life, certain people aren't, and some of the people I feared might die are going to come through hale and hearty!

Guy is getting his own book, so that means he'll make it through in some form or another. Ice will be featured in Generation Lost, so she'll make it through somehow. I would still be worried for Sinestro, given his current state (I predicted ages ago that Johns would have him die a hero at the end of this somehow), but the solicits for Green Lantern in the coming months have revealed that he'll make it through alive, too -- we just don't know what he'll be wearing.

But I've decided that, from what little the solicits have revealed, the storyline in Green Lantern after Blackest Night is over has the potential to fulfill one of my geekiest dreams: apparently the "New Guardians" are going to be forced to make Earth their new home, for reasons that will apparently be revealed in the May issue of Green Lantern (assuming the solicit doesn't lie, which they often do).

In addition to Hal and Carol, that's Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Saint Walker, Indigo-1, and Sinestro living on Earth.

I'll admit, this sort of thing is one of those cheesy, ridiculous storylines that often plays out in my head, but I've never actually written it because it's very hard to write something like that to its full potential while keeping it from turning into... well, a cheesy, ridiculous storyline. Maybe it's because Earth and its customs are what's familiar to us, but putting characters like this into a context where they can be forced to deal with things that, to us, are mundane, is something that's just fun to imagine. And

It reminds me of the old GLC of Earth days, when they had their pretty headquarters that Guy got banned from after he spiked the water and made Salaak see pink elephants. Maybe they'll bring that old place back, and rebuild it nicely, as I think the last time we saw it, Guy and Kilowog had destroyed it in a fistfight, and it collapsed on Arisia's head. Wouldn't it be awesome to see that place again?

Please, please, please tell me that they will all live together in this same house, like a Rainbow-Colored Brady Bunch -- and that Dex-Starr will be their cat and claw the curtains and spray all over their furniture, resulting in fights between Atrocitus and Sinestro because Atrocitus won't neuter his kitty and Sinestro is VERY meticulous about his housekeeping! And Larfleeze will take up residence in the basement, because no one else can stand his stench or his fleas, and he watches them through the floor vents and covets their possessions.

Honestly, picture it:

Sinestro: "Don't any of you people know how to fold laundry? My pants have to be re-dried and creased all over again! And... WHY IS THAT CAT IN MY ROSE BUSHES AGAIN?"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "Uh, yeah, who ordered the seventy-five fully loaded pizzas?"
Larfleeze: "MINE!"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "Whoa, dude, come back! You have to pay for those!"
Indigo: "I'm sorry, I can't help you. My deus ex machina power is depleted."
Pizza Delivery Girl: "..."
Hal: "Oh hey there. Want to see my cockpit?"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "..."
Hal: "You've never flown with me before."
Carol: *sigh* "Here, Pizza Girl, this should cover it. And for God's sake, don't step on the begonias on your way out. Sinestro will have a stroke."
Sinestro: "Silence, you walking venereal disease. Your very presence in this house gives me a burning sensation where one ought not burn."
Saint Walker: "All will be well!"
Carol: *facepalm*

Friday, October 9, 2009

Must-Read Books*: Doom Patrol

*The Must-Read nature of these books is determined by Duskdog, who is probably not actually qualified to reliably recommend anything more complicated than dog shampoo. Take this advice at your own risk.

With so many Green Lantern comics coming out right now, you'd think that the last thing I'd want to do would be pick up a brand new title to get interested in. But I did, and I can't remember why I did. And I'm glad.

I had heard hopeful things about Doom Patrol, sure. They have a lot of closet fans, apparently, and the creative team seemed like a good match. But I had never really cared much for them before. They were... eh, well, I didn't dislike them, but I wasn't overly interested in their adventures, either. Similarly, while I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Metal Men, I wasn't prepared to pay for a brand new title just so I could read the backup story -- particularly considering that the quality of the backup stories in other titles thus far as been pretty... meh.

But OH MY GOD. Only three issues into the series, and I am hooked. Doom Patrol has always had this "we're a family/team of freaks, woe is us" vibe going on, which I always thought was a little whiny considering how many other heroes are out there who are similarly afflicted at various times, but it's very, very well-done here. They can't/don't really live normal lives, and now they've been doing these missions for so long that they're starting not to care about anything, anymore. We're told this overtly by the Chief, but it's shown throughout the story in ways that seem to even surprise the characters. Robotman tries to lead the team, with only moderate success. Elasti-Woman (as she's apparently calling herself now -- finally!) has whole bucketloads of issues that I can't even begin to touch on here. Bumblebee is stuck at tiny size, living in a dollhouse. Negative Man injects humor into every situation... cold, macabre, completely inappropriate humor that makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with him. Mento, well... I won't spoil the latest issue for you if you're interested in what his problem is.

It probably doesn't help, of course, that the Chief is a complete, unrepentant bastard. He has a long, long history of manipulating these people, and while they said back in Teen Titans that they forgave him, it appears to be more of a case of "kick us, beat us, use us -- we just don't care anymore". He uses them, he talks down to them, he even hacks into their personal files (Rita's journal, for one) and one can't help but wonder why they don't just kill him (again) and get it over with. He's definitely getting some points towards "characters I love to hate", and it's really amazing when you think about it, because how often do we get to read about someone who is consistently allied with the good guys, and yet is so obviously a bad guy? Usually the "evil mentor" concept character suddenly gets revealed as evil and goes to the Dark Side, never to be fully redeemed... well, except possibly for at the very last second when the hero needs it most. But for the most part, they're still considered a major villain. The Chief is... neither hero nor villain. The result is an arrogant SOB that you just want to see punched in the face repeatedly, yet you know the characters probably won't.

The villain of this first story arc hasn't really interested me all that much, but it's fine, because I'm far more interested in the psychological developments of the team. I'm sure they're going somewhere with it, and looks like we're going to be seeing more of the creepy Black Hole guy, but I felt more like the mission was just a vehicle by which to show what's going on with the team... and I'm perfectly fine with that. I just hope that the upcoming Blackest Night tie-in issue doesn't ruin the momentum of the book too much. If it keeps the same tone as previous issues, I think it'll be just fine.

Aaaaand, as if Doom Patrol weren't enough, we also have Metal Men as a second feature! Keith Giffen writes both halves of this book, and the completely opposite tones of the two really showcase his talent. While Doom Patrol is dark and psychological (with wonderful pencils by Matthew Clark), Metal Men is light-hearted and downright hilarious. For those of you who are JLI fans, you should know that it's got J.M. DeMatteis, and pencils by Kevin Maguire! His rubbery facial expressions are perfect for the tone of the book, and for the Metal Men themselves, who all have distinct, very pronounced personalities. The government has moved Doc Magnus and his robots to a qiuet suburban town in Illinois, and their neighbors are not too happy about it. Even when the Metal Men aren't busy getting into wacky adventures and try to help out the neighbors to win them over, nothing quite goes as planned. In this book, we learn some important things: The Metal Men are (probably) not toxic to your lawn, robots should never be allowed to drive, and actors are apparently only one electrical shock away from snapping completely.

And the robots' favorite show, "Douglas, Robot-Hunter" has been cancelled! Oh no! (Except every time I see Leonard Ruttman as drawn by Maguire, I can't help but think "Maxwell Lord". It's even funnier if you imagine that it's Max running around in that little skirt firing a blinky toy gun at people. Try it.)

In conclusion: Doom Patrol is currently my favorite non-GL-related book. Yes, even more favorite than Booster Gold at the moment. So give it a try, if you have the budget to try something new!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Because I Don't Talk Often Enough About How Much I Love the Arrow Family...

I completely forgot to post about something that did make me happy last week, especially considering how unhappy I've been with Green Arrow/Black Canary lately: Speedy is back!

Yay! And not only is she back, she's changed her costume, too, and I completely approve. Now she's black and yellow, and it's very striking... and it just so happens to match Dinah's look!

I love Dinah and Mia's sister/mother/daughter/friend relationship (remember when Mia was super pissed and wouldn't talk to Ollie when she found out he cheated on Dinah?) and I like to think the costume change is a nice little nod to the fact that Mia loves and respects her.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've Got My Eye On You, Indigo-1.

Minor spoilers for Blackest Night #3 below. Nik nak nok!

I'll just be blunt: I don't like or trust the Indigo Tribe.

To be fair, we haven't seen much of them yet. For a long time all we got was a sketch or two, and I'll admit that part of my dislike probably stems from the fact that, when we first got a glimpse of the lady we now know as Indigo-1, I was underwhelmed with her character design. I've seen more than one fan talk about how hot she is, but to me she just looks like yet another generic sorta-bald alien chick like something you'd see on Star Trek. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. I'm just constantly disappointed with the lack of good female characters in the main Green Lantern title (GLC is much better with the additions of Soranik, Iolande, the return of Arisia, adorable and interesting Star Sapphire Miri, etc.) and the fact that, of the leaders of each of the colors of the spectrum, the only other female just so happens to be Hal Jordan's long-time love interest. And of course a main female character being the woman that the main male character is, or once was, or wants to, "get busy" with is about the oldest female character cliche in comics. So I had high hopes for a Corps led by a woman, and it disappoints me a little that I don't like her look, or her personality. (Strong woman is great, but she strikes me as being one of that other type of female cliche -- the strong woman who's sort of cold and aloof). I might yet be proven wrong about that.

And I do like the character designs of the other Tribe members we've seen. Even Skrull-chin guy. But especially little squid guy.

But if the Indigo Tribe's definition of "compassion" is suffocating a wounded Lantern to put him out of his misery without bothering to ask him first (like they seemingly did in Tales of the Corps), I'm not sure that I want what they're pushing. That, coupled with the way they snatched Hal and left his allies alone and willpower-less here in Blackest Night #3 makes me really question what compassion is supposed to be. I assume they took him to go start gathering the other leaders of the other Corps, which would explain how he ends up in space with Carol and Sinestro in his next slated appearance in Green Lantern #46, and that is a very important mission. Yes, I suppose the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But... a little compassion for the group of people you just left behind to be totally farked, guys? You just told them that they need a Green Lantern and another color in order to have a hope of defeating those Black Lanterns... and then you proceed to not only remove their Green Lantern (push comes to shove, they might be able to find Alan Scott, right? Assuming his ring even works the way they need it to), but you remove yourselves from the picture as well -- and the other spectrum colors are a little harder to find! I guess these days you can't throw a rock in space without hitting a ring-wielder of some color (I like to think that Guy would put it that way), but things are a little different on Earth. There aren't any random Sinestro Corpsmen, or Blue Lanterns, or Red Lanterns, or... well, anything, really. Couldn't they have at least left one of their tribe behind to help, in case the heroes somehow managed to get ahold of Alan?

Nope. They kidnapped Hal and left Ray, Mera, Barry, and company to what should be (from Indigo's point of view, anyway), an almost certain death. Maybe they'll have a little moment of silence for them -- that would be compassionate, I guess?

My other question is... is compassion really that rare of an emotion? Because despite what a lot of people like to think about the ugliness of the world, I think that most people have quite a bit of compassion in them -- though occasionally they have to be reminded to slow down and think for a minute before they realize what other people are going through.

I dunno, if compassion is that amazingly rare, I think everyone is in trouble. It sounds like something that fits more with Sinestro's view of the universe than I'm comfortable with. After all, isn't he the one that thinks the universe is a horrible, twisted, unforgiving place that needs to be fixed?