Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

When is it time to break up with a comic book?

Sometimes, the decision is obvious: The comic’s quality plunges or goes in a direction you don’t like. Maybe the writer and/or artist changes and their work doesn’t move you.

But let’s say you’re reading a book that you’ve enjoyed for a long time, one that is still solidly good and has had its moments of genius. It’s still better than many comics you could be wasting your money on and you’ve made it this far. However, you’ve had the sneaking suspicion lately that something’s missing. Whereas you once couldn’t wait to fetch it from your LCS and dive right in, you’re now putting it aside and thinking, “I’ll get to it eventually.” Then when you do, your attention drifts. It’s not that the book is bad or even mediocre, but it just doesn’t excite you anymore. Continue reading

Comic Judgment: Surprises and Comeback Kids

As we’ve all discovered by now, the quality of the relaunched DC books has been all over the map, ranging from the brilliant to the WTF? That’s about what I expected. There’s no need for me to write another mash note to Batwoman, Action Comics, Wonder Woman or even Batman and Robin, so on to the rest of the DCnU buy pile we go! For purposes of this post, I’m focusing on some books that I had previously dismissed or that were initially letdowns. Continue reading

Comic Judgment: Debuts and Curtain Calls

There’s nothing like a hefty Wednesday haul, especially when the books are as good as mine were this week. From a promising upstart to two venerable titles that took their bows, there’s quite a bit to cover. Here we go:

Better. Stronger. Faster.

The Bionic Man #1: Can a comic book based on a classic TV show withstand the white-hot expectations of readers full of nostalgia? Or will said nostalgia warp one’s view, resulting in an overly positive or negative response?

Though Dynamite’s new Bionic Man comic had me at “Oscar Goldman,” I still approached it with caution. Col. Steve Austin, astronaut, loomed so large in my childhood that I successfully lobbied my parents to buy me his doll – uh, action figure when I was 7 or 8. As I began reading, I thought of the great RuPaul’s advice to his drag competition contestants: Don’t *%$! it up.
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Friday Favorite: Ravager

She’s inappropriate, bitchy, and a little too fond of problem-solving through violence, but I ♥ Ravager.

Every superhero team needs a rabble-rouser, and Ms. Rose Wilson fills that role for the Teen Titans with verve. As the offpsring of Slade Wilson (Deathstroke), she has enough dysfunction for several lifetimes. She’s also grown to become a valuable member of the Titans, and even her good-girl nemesis Cassie (Wonder Girl) has grown to value her battle prowess. Continue reading

Poll Retrospective: Here’s How You Voted

Over the past year, we’ve asked for your opinion on everything from Wonder Woman’s drawers to whether you gave a rat’s ass about the upcoming Green Lantern movie. The results were always entertaining, and frequently surprising. Without further ado, here are the results from polls past:

1. Which version of Diana’s knickers do you prefer?
Given a choice of Nicola Scott’s taut medium, Jim Lee’s warrior skirt, Ed Benes’ quasi G-string and Aaron Lopresti’s granny britches, the clear winner was … Continue reading

Comic Judgment: Titans, Together!

Teen Titans #88
Writer: J.T. Krul
Art: Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood (ink), Jason Wright (color), Adam Hughes (variant cover)
Letters: Sal Cipriano

Adam Hughes variant cover

When I got back into comics several years ago, I fell hard for Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans. I’d enjoyed the Wolfman/Perez stuff back in the day, and it seemed to me that Johns’ modern incarnation struck all the right notes. There was real chemistry among the characters, a good mix of the funny and the serious, and Johns never tried too hard to write “youth” dialogue. Mike McKone’s artwork? Wonderful.

I think you see where this is going. After a great run, the comic’s script quality dipped a few notches, and then, partly because of things taking place elsewhere in the DCU, it went over a cliff, exploded upon impact, and left a football field-sized patch of scorched earth in its wake. OK; that’s an exaggeration, but not a terribly big one. Suffice to say that many Teen Titans fans — me included — dropped it and never looked back.

Until now. DC has enlisted a new creative team, writer J.T. Krul and illustrator Nicola Scott, to pump new life into Teen Titans, beginning with issue #88. While this comic didn’t rock my world, it is solidly good and taps into the things that made TT work in the Johns era: an interesting team dynamic, witty banter, heavy action and boy-girl drama. They are teenagers, after all. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Krul deserves a great deal of credit for making Cassie/Wonder Girl a less grating and more credible team leader. She seems to have really stepped up in Tim/Red Robin’s absence, and Scott, one of my favorite artists, draws her with an understated beauty and authority. Actually, that’s the way she draws everything in this book. There’s a lovely moment between Cassie and Conner/Superboy where she’s sitting on her bed, slumped forward with worry. And bless Scott for drawing heroines who look healthy and strong, not like blowup dolls.

But it wouldn’t be a party without Rose/Ravager, who is one kick-ass chick and the consummate antagonist. You want her on your team because she can take suckers down hard — but she also might take your man. I loved the panel where, after a workout, she throws her sweaty towel at Superboy and says, “I got a lot of energy.” All together now: Daaaaaamn!

There are a couple of nifty plot threads going on, too. The world’s sketchiest high school biology teacher has plans for a socially isolated student, and they’re not good. (Note to kids: Do not go into the darkened basement of an adult you barely know. But if you do, and you happen to see a gurney and mutants in cages, run like hell.) Dick/Batman 2 also decides that Damian needs to make some friends, and I’m a little nervous about adding him to the Titans community. He’s a tricky character to write, and casting him as a one-note jerk or a merry brat would be a mistake. Don’t do it, J.T.!

If you’ve missed the Titans, and I certainly have, issue #88 is a good excuse for a reunion. Don’t bust out the confetti just yet, but do keep a bag handy. Verdict: Well played.

New Teen Titans Team: Do You Care?

It’s an understatement to say that the venerable Teen Titans title has fallen on hard times recently. However, the new creative team of J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott will take the reigns starting with issue #88. We adore Scott’s work, and while Krul’s The Rise of Arsenal reeked, we know he’s written good stuff, including the Ravager miniseries that was published inside Teen Titans. But is this promising announcement enough to get you reading this comic again?

Friday Favorite: Tim Drake Wayne

Despite the fact that they all run around in silly costumes, some caped characters get more respect than others. If you say you’re a Batman fan, even his harshest geek critics won’t make fun of you, at least to your face. But saying that Robin is one of your favorites leads to snickering and the occasional joke about inappropriate pixie boot fetishes.

Um, ew. And whatever. Tim Drake Wayne  —Robin III and the current Red Robin — is my ace, and I’m totally OK with that. Continue reading