Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

Untitled It's funny. I keep thinking we're going to hit our "proper" hundredth episode any minute now and we're still only eighty-something percent of the way there. (It's probably the high-weirdness of having 145 entries accessible on iTunes that's throwing me off...) But we will get there!

Yes, neither rain nor snow nor sleep, nor screwy Skype, nor half-maintained hardware, nor early morning airport visits, nor crazy screeds by prominent webcomic cartoonists where the phrase "we won!" really means, "stop harshing my mellow," can keep us from our appointed rounds...unless we decide to take a week off.

Whatevs: we have a two hour episode for you, full of complaints about some of the above, but also delightful discussions of Reverse Aquaman, Saga #3 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Avenging Spider-Man #7 by Kathryn and Sturart Immonen, the history of kitty cats, Saucer Country #3, Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Bakuman, Batwoman, Watchmen Toasters, the fabulous oral history of DC's Countdown to Final Crisis over at Funnybook Babylon, The Zed-Echs Spectrum, Thor, Thanos, fanfic, Fraction, Bendis, and the perennial favorite:  more, more, more.

It is on iTunes (let's assume for the sake of argument) but it is also here, for you to download and listen to, and to raise as if it was your very own child, albeit one that chatters on endlessly and never really seems to hear what you say (yes, very much like your very own child, indeed!):

Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

And as always, we hope you enjoy and we thank you for listening!

Events in mah brain!

It is April, and we're starting this year's cycle of event storytelling. I'm fairly unconvinced this is what the audience actually and truly wants -- at best I tend to think that the market supports them because its been sooooo long since we sold comics purely on the strength of the comics that we've forgotten anything BUT events, but I guess we'll see what shakes out.  

Clearly the market is reeling right now -- January and February were abysmal, and March not really that much better -- and there's a sense to me, at least, that this year's are "make or break" for the Marvel and DC universes in some fashion or another.


Not like comics will go away, of course, my big happy thought from WonderCon was that Larry Marder is still doing Beanworld, and getting paid to do so, and as long as THAT still happens, comics are just fine, thanks very much!


But that's something more to develop in a TILTING (which, huh, I should get to writing, shouldn't I?) -- this is to talk about the comics themselves.



FEAR ITSELF #1: In many many many ways, I think that the success of failure of an event can often be determined by looking at its "log line" or "elevator pitch" -- the one sentence summation of what the book is about. I'm not all that terrific at perfectly encapsulating them, for example I'm sure someone can come up with something more precise or sexy for CIVIL WAR than "Superheroes fight among themselves over liberty versus security", but that was pretty much what I used in '06, and it worked a charm, selling a bucketload of comics for me.


In the same way, DC's biggest recent hit, BLACKEST NIGHT, can be reduced to "Dead superheroes come back from the grave as murderous zombies" -- that the kind of thing people often say "Wow, cool!" to. The CLEARER the pitch, the more direct and large the sales.


FEAR ITSELF is a weird "event" comic -- I'll say straight up that I liked it pretty well. I have problems with bits of it (when don't I?): I thought the Avengers pro-Stark shilling was a bit.... strange, given the libertarian nature of some of the characters; I thought that the interactions between Thor and Odin were kind of heavy-handed; and I thought the lettering was oddly large, but all in all I liked the issue as I was reading it, and I'll even skip to the chase and say I thought it was pretty GOOD.


But I still can't log line it! Even after reading it! That's not a great situation.


I mean, I could say "An older pantheon of gods returns to kick the Asgardian's asses", I guess? But I don't think that's all there is to it, and, anyway, that sounds way too insider baseball for fan-off-the-street. Very very few people ACTUALLY care about "the Asgardians" as an abstract group, we have decades of sales information to clearly show that. And, clearly, Marvel is struggling with it as well, because THEY'VE yet to log line it themselves -- their marketing is all over the map, and not defining things in terms of story really. Even the title doesn't suggest what the story might be about.


Our first week sales were "fine" -- just a smidge above AVENGERS... but I have a hard time considering an event book a hit unless it does, say, twice, three times that. That's kind of the problem with Direct Market 2011 in a nutshell, in fact -- the bottom- and middle- sellers are no worse than flat, and even substantially up in a lot of cases, but the top-selling books have cratered to less than half of what they were 2-3 years ago. That's an ugly prospect.


I'm cool with the stock I have on hand -- worst case we'll sell out sometime right around the last issue shipping, but I *want* to have to go back for more, say, before issue #3 arrives in store.


Anyway, log-lines, yeah. That's the problem here. The comic is pretty GOOD, but I can't find the words to SELL it.



JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #622: Kieron Gillen's first issue, and also the first crossover tie-in to FEAR ITSELF, and I really REALLY liked it.  If you had said "Neil Gaiman wrote this" I might have believed you. Gillen's always been strong on plotting, but this brings his prose up to a new level, and I'm anxious to see how long he can sustain this questing story with Loki as a lead. I hope it's a real long time.  VERY GOOD.


FLASH #10: This is the second "prelude" issue to the upcoming Big DC event FLASHPOINT, and every problem I have with FEAR ITSELF is magnified widely for FLASHPOINT -- what the hell is it about? Well, I've figured out that the best thing to say is maybe "It's 'Age of Apocalypse' for the DC Universe", but if you don't already read comics (and lots of them), then I have to explain what AoA is, right? I guess you could also say "It's an 'Elseworlds' as an event", but same problem, right?


Comics ABOUT comics are kind of a hard sell.


The problem is compounded by the fact that FLASH has really been a dull book, to date. I *still* don't know what compelling narrative reason there was to bringing Saint Barry back in the first place, and I *like* DC's Silver Age.


What I *did* like about this issue was the *idea* of "Hot Pursuit" as being from Earth-47 (or whatever), and I'm intrigued about the rest of the heroes on what could potentially be a "no non-tech superpowers" world, but since I'm sort of expecting HP to *be* the bad-guy here, I suspect that is going to go nowhere? I also hope very very much I'm wrong, because isn't that more or less the plot of the first FLASH arc anyway?


Bottom line: There's nothing here that interests me, or, more importantly, creates more interest for FLASHPOINT, and a lot of what DC is doing this year would seem to depend on one or the other of those conditions being met? FLASH #10 was essentially EH.



BRIGHTEST DAY #23: I know that there's one more to go, and I should probably hold off until then just to see if they tie the loose ends well.... but I can't see how they can?


I guess I'm just flabbergasted that the POINT of an entire year of a series, not to mention the end of BLACKEST NIGHT seems to have been to return Swamp Thing to the DCU universe? Really? Realllllllly?


Then there's the "And what the FUCK did that have to do with a WHITE LANTERN?!?!" I mean the whole "lantern" concept seems sort of inherently more than about parochial Terran concerns, no? Or how about how this ties in with some of the other returnees most specifically Max Lord? Or how about, how do you return the Terran Earth elemental with a cat from Mars, and another one from frickin' thanagar?


Plus, Alec Holland's body? Meatless.


Plus plus, how are you returning SWAMP Thing to what's clearly meant to be a Northwestern city (like Portland or Seattle)? Meh.


I also think the cosmology, as already established in the DCU is kind of off -- Firestorm ALREADY was the Fire Elemental, and there was mm, whatsname, Niaid is it? as the Water one. I mean, those are DC comics, not Vertigo ones!


I don't know.


But, at the end of the day, I can't believe all that was leading to the return of Swamp Thing, because I'm a retailer and I know that no Swamp Thing comic NOT written by Alan Moore is going to be commercially successful within a year. So why waste all of the effort to reintroducing what, at very very very best will be a supporting character?


I thought this was pretty AWFUL.



ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #157 and ULTIMATE AVENGERS VS NEW ULTIMATES #3: OK, now I *think* I see what they're going to do here, and it seems like they are going to kill "Spider-Man", presumably by completely crippling Peter Parker. Maybe they'll then turn Peter into the new Reed Richards of the Ultimate U, or, like "Professor P." running a team from his wheelchair or something. I guess there's some slight story potential there.


The thing is.... the thing is, as a marketing concept, they sold this entirely the wrong way. We had the postcards proclaiming "THE DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN!" on our counter for several weeks, and MANY people asked about it. "Yeah," says I, "It's in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN". "Oh," says them, "so not the 'real' one". I'd then try to convince them that USM is actually spiffy, indeed, but you can see the eyes glaze over.


So, yeah, by marketing it like this, especially with the 3 "prequel" issues, boldly bannered and all that, they're setting up some false expectations, at best. I guess that I feel that if they had just DID it, without trying to make it a marketing "event", that it would have caught everyone by surprise, and sales could have built up from the sheer buzz and audacity of it. But, by doing it "top down" like this, I think you're not going to get the kind of audience response that the Ultimate line desperately desperately needs right now.


I quite liked the Spidey portion of these two issues (GOOD), but thought the Avengers portion was overblown, and undercooked (EH)





Yeah, that's enough out of me. What did YOU think?



Pairings #1 (of ??): Jeff Looks at Blackest Night, Fantastic Four

As I mentioned the other day, I got to Comix Experience yesterday for the first time in a month--well, over a month, obviously, because so many of the books I follow had two issues waiting for me. So while I'm gonna try and pass this off on you as a study of "trends" or "pairings" or some similar "horseshit," don't be fooled: it's just because I read two issues of something at once and can't quite disentangle my impression of one from the other.

Behind the jump: Blackest Night issues #5 and #6, Fantastic Four #573 and #574.

BLACKEST NIGHT #5 and #6: It'd be great if 2010 ended up being the Year I Learned To Quit Worrying and Love Geoff Johns because there's some stuff in here that's really, really smart. But I'm not sure it's going to happen because there's also some stuff in here that's really, really stupid. And not in that great "hey, zombie shark!" kind of way. No. I mean, on page four of issue #5, Green Lantern says, "The rainbow rodeo's locked and loaded, Ganthet. So where'd this big, bad black lantern go?" Or when zombie Jean Loring grabs Mera and says, "Let's take a trip, 'Little Mermaid.' Under the sea." When I read those lines, I may have actually pulled a muscle from cringing so hard.

At six issues in, Blackest Night is feeling the strain of being the most awesome thing ever--awful dialogue, endless exposition (so much so, I'm reminded of exercises in foreign language primers, if the people therein were more interested in Batman's desecrated skull than where to get a newspaper) and cramped, panicked storytelling. Ivan Reis' confident art has been reduced to page-long panels piled each upon each, into which every character must bend at knees, hips, and shoulders just to fit. Even the full page spreads--as regular and as monotonous as a horn sample in a hiphop song--have a half-dozen people (or an undead spacefaring cast of thousands) packed together as uncomfortably as the subjects of any wedding party photo. As a result, though it's supposed to be a dark, lightning-paced romp, it's not much fun to read. It's less like Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead and more like Zack Snyder's Watchmen, if you know what I mean.

And that's especially frustrating because Johns has some really interesting stuff going on--Nekron as the reason behind the resurrection of all these DC heavy-hitters is an elegant spin on DC's continuity, and a great way to raise the stakes as nearly all the heroes become his pawns with little more than a turn of the page. When I was a kid, I would've given my left arm for a big crossover event that dotted the i's and crossed the t's of continuity while giving us plenty of spectacle--like Steve Englehart's run on Avengers allowed to rampage across all titles--and I don't know if I'll ever get closer than Blackest Night. (Come to think of it, nobody really loved Englehart's dialogue, either.)

But, like I said, it's cramped and not particularly fun and just when I start to enjoy myself, something like "The rainbow rodeo's locked and loaded" comes along. It's OK, I guess, but it should be freakin' awesome.

FANTASTIC FOUR #573 and #574: Ai-yi-yi. I really, really hope Neil Edwards and Andrew Currie do not have access to the Internet because I would not want them to read what I have to say next. But, honestly: their artwork in these two issues is so flat, trite, and ugly, it makes Don Heck look like Moebius. I feel for them, Edwards and Currie, because I too believe children to be inhuman and vaguely potato-headed creatures barely able to recognizably mimic common feelings and emotions. However, since society requires us to pretend that children are, in essence, just like us, I have little choice but to judge E & C as terrible artists rather than subversive revolutionaries for a greater truth.

Though, to be fair, the adults all look horrible too, like someone had decided to craft a Fantastic Four Tijuana Bible using Brian Hitch's previous run as guidance but the tertiary syphillis affected the artist's eyesight early and they didn't get further than the desperate sharpie-on-paper-lunch-bag look achieved here.

Consequently, I can't tell if Hickman's writing is sub-par or merely poisoned by the awful art. After all, I thought the first two issues of his run were a bit bald-faced in their formula, but exceedingly competent and enjoyable. The third and climactic issue of his 'Crisis On Infinite Reeds' story, however, was shockingly inept--the protagonist and writer literally turned their backs and walked away from the whole scenario, ethical quandries and all--so it's entirely possible these two issues would be underwhelming even if Jack Kirby returned from beyond the grave just to draw them. After all, in #573, Ben, Johnny, Val, and Franklin return to Millar and Hitch's Nu-World and a lot of ethical quandries are bandied about before the Hulk's kid smashes a woman's head right off her body, and our heroes are able to head home.

And in #574, Franklin's interminable birthday party is interrupted by a walking, talking teaser for Hickman's upcoming storylines about whom, after disappearing, the FF show absolutely no interest in pursuing or thinking about ever again.

If Hickman's intention is to bring America's First Superpowered Family into the age of the modern SUV ("Fuck everyone else as long as we get home okay"), he's absolutely succeeded. But I think it's more likely he has his eyes on the prize of doing BIG! EXCITING! SPECTACLE! and can't quite nail down his pacing. I'd hoped for a little better than what we've seen so far, and have my fingers crossed things will come together better--and the art team gets replaced--since I want to see such ambition succeed (and lord, do I love the restoration of the book's old logo). But this was disappointing sub-OK stuff to me.

Hibbs Returns

I spent almost all of last week sick and in bed -- damn the plague bearing children!

But I owe you some reviews, I think, let's see what I can do, in that Old School format...

BLACKEST NIGHT #5: Really all that one wants out of a big Comics Event (well, or any comic for that matter) is to be surprised a little, to have that "Neat, I didn't see THAT coming!" moment. And this issue of BN certainly gave me that pretty substantially. I also liked that the Rainbow Squad did exactly nothing. I'm going to go with VERY GOOD here, especially given that this is the issue a lot more people are likely to buy because of the GL ring attached to it.

Parenthetically, there's a great deal of talk about "Superhero Decadence", which made me think a lot about some of the issues raised in this article about Soap Operas. It really sounds incredibly similar to me....

CHEW #6: Second arc, and it starts promisingly. I thought the end of arc #1 was a bit telegraphed (I've probably consumed too much fiction over the years to be surprised), but I liked the dynamic set up here, and thought the funny was funny. GOOD.

CREEPY COMICS #2: A much better effort than the first issue (which I thought was, frankly, terrible) -- I didn't exactly LIKE any story in here, but I, at least, didn't HATE them, which is a huge step up. Writing this kind of "Ironic Horror" story is really really difficult, it seems. A solid OK,and let's hope it keeps scaling up.

DETECTIVE COMICS #859: It is almost tiresome how good this is -- how can one keep heaping superlatives on a book month after month? I rather do think this is the best thing DC publishes each month, and it is a stupendous and ballsy project to have in DC's "flagship" title. I even thought Rucka's Lesbian Fascination has extraordinarily well done this issue, comparing it against the dictates (both legal, and moral) of her Army career. I simply can not wait for the Absolute edition of this book, because it is just that good. EXCELLENT.

Sales-wise, for us at least, we're now selling nearly twice as many copies of 'TEC as we are of generic-BATMAN at this point post-relaunch. And something approaching 80% of BATMAN & ROBIN (though that's a function of Tan's art on the latter more than anything else, I think -- there's been a pretty steep drop off between the first arc and #4-6).

GREEN LANTERN #48: Johns is doing a good job "fleshing out" scenes from BN to be full-sized stories in GL, without seeming like padding. That's a neat trick. Now that the Rainbow Squad are all together, I find myself really really enjoying the Orange Lantern characterization. Solidly GOOD.

IMAGE UNITED #1: Jinkies. While I approve, certainly, of "getting the band back together", and I think they're doing a good job with the logistics of having everyone draw their own characters, hrf I think that was pretty sucktastic of a story. It felt more like a circa 1993 Image comic than anything they've published in the last ten years... and that's not really a complement. Robert Kirkman's main contribution, it seems? Pariah. Got to go with AWFUL.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #20: Here's where I don't get Marvel's marketing -- this book has two covers. One is exciting and futuristic looking and encapsulates the story, and might even sell some comic books just on its own virtues; while the other one is a too-blown-up version of a (IIRC) house ad, that looks craptastic from being blown up, and blows the "punchline" by having it on the back cover of the book. When retailers say "Really, we'd like to be able to order covers as we want them in our store, please", I think I might point to this as exhibit A -- this decision will almost certainly have me selling FEWER copies of IRON MAN, than more.

Total shame, too -- Fraction is doing astonishing work on this book, writing a futurist with a plan; I can't even imagine how hard it is to write someone who is clearly that much smarter than the rest of us -- and he's doing it completely convincingly. Without a doubt this is my absolute favorite Marvel comic released each month right now, and, hopefully, this arc will keep the quality as high. VERY GOOD.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #39: This, on the other hand, is as generic of a BN-crossover as one can be. Wow, Vibe AND Steel? I'm scared! AWFUL.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #33: Since the start of this arc, we've lost over half of our readership for it. And when they split this into two titles next week ("JSA ALL STARS"), I think we're going to lose half of it again. This is a classic case of "What the hell are you thinking?!?!" While I guess I like a DC management who wants to publish many JSA comics more than I liked the DC management who once famously said "No one whatsoever wants to read about these characters" when canceling the Mike Parobeck run, one needs a plan a bit more substantial than "publish a lot of books, maybe someone will want them". This story arc couldn't even be arsed to hint at why all of these characters were attacking, or why they weren't attacking the SSK, all the while rubbing the "Heh, see the A-storyline has NOTHING to do with the B-storyline WHATSOEVER" in the audience's face. Completely AWFUL.

NEW AVENGERS #59: Pretty preposterous that everyone acts that stupid because the plot dictates that they do, and, god, will I be glad when "Dark Reign" is over (and, based on my sales, my customers are even more eager for that then I am), but if one were to ignore all of that, this was a solid enough action-packed issue. OK.

NEW MUTANTS #7: With better art this could have been great. Heck, with backgrounds (instead of just swaths of color) this could have been great. Instead, it's just kind of EH.

POWERS #1: Two years later? Lost a lot of momentum. Not really feeling it anymore, but maybe that will change again if issues come out regularly. OK

SECRET WARRIORS #10: What happened to the premise of the book? You'd especially think that in the run-up to the end game of "Dark Reign" this would actually be about the "Secret Warriors" rather than just one character, but maybe that's me. OK.

SUPERMAN #694: While this felt more like a "Superman" comic than any other recent issue, it's still just a Mon-El comic in somewhat different clothes. Which is fine, I guess, but not what people want from "Superman". Our sales have been really atrocious on this whole line lately. OK.

SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #3: This is closer to what I was hoping for from this project than what we got from the first two issues -- actually adding facts and information and perspective to the legend of the character. I'll go solidly GOOD on this one.

THOR GIANT SIZE FINALE (BY JMS) #1: Dismissing the story he'd been writing up to this point in about 5 pages, the rest putting the Don Blake/Thor status quo back to where it was in 1968... "There's no heart to this" drips from every page. Too bad, this was one of the most exciting Marvel projects in a bit, and now it's been folded awkwardly back into the general Marvel U -- I'm expecting the sales to drop back pretty Darn Quick. EH.

ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #4: Sometimes I wish Millar wasn't as enamored with being as clever as he thinks that he is, and that he was just clever once again. OK.

What did YOU think?


What scares you

I was standing around Ben's schoolyard the other morning talking with the first graders while waiting for the morning bell to ring, and one of them announced to me that they were afraid of squirrels (first graders are really cute with what will just pop out of their mouths) (She had been bitten by a squirrel a few weeks before apparently, so I can get behind that)

So I started asking the kids what they were all scared of -- I have a very mild fear of heights (more like I get dizzy), and Ben said "Ghost Galaxy!" (I think we'll come back to that), one little boy said people dressed as zombies, and another said spiders, but the one that tugged at my heart was the precious little girl who declared it was "Jesus"

I blinked rapidly.

"Um, honey, why are you scared of Jesus, he's supposed to be very nice and said everyone should be friendly to everyone else."

"Yes, but he's part of God, and God is very very very big, and we're like ants to him."


ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE: RECORDED ATTACKS: Another thing that scares me is the notion that book publishers are going to come into comics not having the slightest idea of what they're doing. This was proven to me with this volume from Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House.

I really really really liked Max Brook's WORLD WAR Z -- more for its scope of history and world building and just plain thinking about the impact of the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse on the whole of the world than about the zombies themselves; heck, I like it so much I even bought the audiobook version (truncated as it is, it has some excellent performances -- Alan Alda FTW!), so I'm pretty hip to the idea of a GN extension of that world. The premise is to show various Zombie attacks, all before modern times, and how other cultures and historical periods would have dealt with them (I'm iffy on the Caveman one, just from a Reasoning POV, but the rest are clever)

However, take a look at that cover. Here's a copy of it.

Notice anything odd about that?

Think about it a moment.

For the slow among you: Max Brooks is "just" a writer (at least as far as I know) -- and he certainly didn't draw the book. YET THE ARTIST'S NAME IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND ON THE FRONT COVER (or spine, for that matter)

There's a little small line on the BACK cover about how the book is "illustrated by" Ibraim Roberson, but it's all just an afterthought in the marketing copy. Even in the indicia page (or whatever they call that page in proper books) Roberson's name is in a smaller type size than the ISBN number.

The weird thing to me is that this was apparently changed at some point in the production process -- here's the Random House website with the cover as it was solicited -- and Roberson's name is right there on the front cover where it should be. Some Marketing (probably) person made a conscious decision to remove Roberson's name from the book.

Here's the thing: in comics, there's no such thing as "illustrated by" -- the artist (or artistS, since penciller, inker, and colorist are all common components) is either an equal, or, in some cases, greater-than participant in the creative process as the writer. Especially in a book like this which has lots and lots and lots of silent sequences.

For all I know Max Brook's script is very very detailed, dictating "camera position" and exact details and everything so that "any" artist could have done exactly the same work... but from what I know about comics production, that seems pretty darn unlikely to me. In fact, in a lot of ways, the text seems a bit divorced from the sequential story-telling, almost as if Brooks just wrote some (very) short prose chapters and left it at that. I don't know.

But I do know that "comics" is "Words AND Pictures working together", and to not credit the artist on the front cover or spine is, in my opinion, horrifically disrespectful, and utterly screwed up.

The book itself is a low GOOD, being mostly vignettes that don't add together, and being, let's be charitible, outrageously expensive at $17 for a black & white paperback, which should be selling 10s of thousands of units based on the Author's cachet.


So far for three years running, Ben and I take an annual "father and son" trip; and, so far, each year we head down to Disneyland. Ben's an October baby, so we're always there for the Halloween decorations at Disneyland, especially the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on The Haunted Mansion (which is 99 flavors of awesome, I got to tell you).

This year Ben was (finally!) tall enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride, and he DUG IT -- we went on it three times before the lines got too long to make it "worth it"

We go midweek on a week with no holidays or anything, hoping for the least lines possible, but this year it was absolutely packed. I'm thinking the "get in free on your birthday" promotion is REALLY working, because I saw a TON of people wearing "It's my birthday" pins. Also, there's a marked rush at about 3 PM, making me think a lot of locals have annual passes, and come by after school for a ride or three.

We did little this year that we didn't do other years -- I still can't get Ben to consent to the Twilight Zone ride, though we did get on Soaring Over California as our last ride of the day. Very impressive, but way not worth the hour in line that it ended up being (it was 25 minutes we we got in line, but I guess they had an army of "Fast Pass" people show up, because it took 65 minutes total)

Other than that was a new overlay on Space Mountain, called "Ghost Galaxy".

I had the vague thought that maybe they'd just replace the streaking lights with ghost shaped lights or something. Maybe change the sound track a bit.

You couldn't tell what it might be from the outside of the ride, since they couldn't be bothered to change the entry whatsoever -- and, seriously, walking through that 1970s edifice to futurism is about as unghostly as one might get. There WAS a sign or two that said "small children might find this frightening", but hell, Indy says THAT, and Ben was grinning and cackling through Indy.

Not on Ghost Galaxy. He was as white as a sheet at the end, and said, in a very quiet voice, "I never want to go on that again as long as I live, Daddy"

Dig that he LOVED Space Mountain last year, AND as a four year old too.

Ghost Galaxy basically just projects "gory" spirits up on the walls -- there's no blood, per se, but they're colored blood red. As an adult, it's utterly laughable, but it freaked the fuck out of Ben. It also sort of ruined the ride. Space Mountain is awesome because the ... well, I don't know what to call the moving lights... the hyperspeed effect, maybe?... really helped with the smoothness and the movement of the roller coaster part. Randomly projecting big square "ghost" portraits completely screwed up the effect. That's a ride I'll never ride again myself. AWFUL.


BLACKEST NIGHT BATMAN 1-3, and SUPERMAN #1-3: To me, the biggest sin of a crossover tie-in is to be "red skies". That is, where basically nothing really happens, except to take money from your pocket. And I kind of feel that BN crossovers are doing pretty much that -- zombies show up, get fended off, the end.

BATMAN was especially that -- there's nothing in there that "moved the needle" much, while SUPERMAN at least put up an "anti Zombie field" around "New Krypton" (that will also repel anyone else), which, I'm thinking, is going to explain why SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON is only a 12 issue mini-series. Of course, that will make WoNK a less satisfying read, perhaps, with "See something else!" as it's big conclusion.

Overall, neither was any better than OK.


The pounding in my head is starting again from all the drilling outside. Maybe THAT's what I really fear: street construction (And the loss of business from it)

What did YOU think?


Johns and Johns

FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #5: Well, I liked it a little better than Douglas did, maybe possibly because I have a greater affinity for the "real" Legion (ie Levitz/Giffen, and all that came before that), so I'm real glad to have them back after all of these years, but I have to admit that I'm befuddled by some of the gyrations of the multiple-worlds stuff in this.

Maybe it is because I just don't understand how one can have "52" parallel worlds AND also have "infinite" ones on top of that. As a general concept, I prefer the idea of endless ones that some artificial limitation -- but it isn't at all clear to me that DC or the writers working there really understand their own "rules", which makes things fairly confusing.

As I recall the theory, "Earth Prime" was OUR world -- the world where there weren't any superheroes, and we only read about them as comic book characters. This world was, theoretically, destroyed during "Crisis on Infinite Earths", which, of course, doesn't actually make any sense whatsoever from the POV of DC's cosmology.

(I always had this theory about COIE that went something like this: the multiple earths were never actually destroyed, just that "earth-1" decided to wall itself off from the rest of the multiverse. From THEIR perception, it might seem like everything else was "destroyed", but they just couldn't perceive it any longer.)

Anyway, I always liked the IDEA of Earth-Prime -- where you could have the adventures of Julie Schwartz and Cary Bates or whatever. They made a pretty big hash of it, however, when they decided to introduce... um, what the hell was his name? Was it "Ultraa"? Yeah, I think that's right -- a name with that extra, unnecessary "a" at the end. Would anyone ever know that was his name if he just SAID it? "Uh, no, it has an extra 'a' at the end, it's silent!" "Wow, that's really dumb"

Then, of course, we got Superboy-Prime from that issue of DC COMICS PRESENTS. Though I don't remember any of the details of that DCCP, I vaguely remember the idea was that he was in like "day one" of his career then he went directly into COIE seconds later, so maybe, just maybe, Earth-Prime could still be "our" world.

Now, here in FCLOTW #5 there's a little throwaway line about how Earth-Prime was reborn during "the second crisis", though it seems a smidge weird to me that Sboy-Prime wouldn't have known that since that was everything he wanted in that story, but whatever.

Either way, sboy-Prime is sent back to "his" (our) earth, and then really becomes the explicit metaphor of fanboy entitlement -- living in his parent's basement, posting on the DC Comics message boards (ha ha!)

But what marred this for me is the implication that he then murdered Lori, AND he still has his super-powers. That kind of guts the metaphor, doesn't it? No, it would have been much better to leave those two points out of it; to have had his parents been terrified by him not because of the suggestion of powers, but rather than because of his nutjobbery. I mean, it isn't like they could have him committed because they read in a comic book that he was a genocidal fuck, right? That would get THEM committed.

Take out those two bits, and this would have been a note-perfect ending; but instead it smacks too much of wanting to have one's cake and eat it as well -- Johns just can't seem to put the toy back in the toy box and lock it away forever. Bah!

I hope it WILL be forever, too -- I never ever want to read a comic book ever again that has Prime as the antagonist!

Either way, I still thought this was a decently GOOD ending to the series - one that would have had more punch had it actually came out on time...

BLACKEST NIGHT #1, GL #43 & 44: Y;know, even though this plays to the worst of Johns' instincts (Dirk Deppey's "Superhero Decadence", yes), I really enjoyed the heck out of these. IF you're going to have super-powered zombies coming around, then this is the way to do it, and I like the scope and scale of the story.

BUT, man, do you HAVE to have on-panel violence that is as extreme as Black Hand blowing his head off in GL #43? Or the gory ending of BN #1?

I'm really really REALLY hoping that Johns has a solid endgame mapped for this which puts all of the toys back in the box, properly -- hopefully this will all conclude with all of the dead characters (or at least the ones we LIKE -- Aquaman, J'onn, etc.), coming "properly" back to life, because, in the end, shitting on these characters legacies the other way will really really suck, and will essentially ruin the characters and their legacies "forever". (God, now I'm starting to sound like Prime, aren't I?)

I wonder, too, about at least one of the choices made here -- we've seen it established that Ralph and Sue have a "proper" afterlife, solving crimes as the DC version of Nick-&-Nora-Charles-meets-the Kerby's-From-TOPPER, so what's the, mm, "animating force" in the undead versions of the two? They talk to the Hawks like they ARE Ralph and Sue, but they can't really "BE" them, can they? I mean cosmologically-speaking, and all.

As for GL #44, well it has the hard trick of trying to have content, when that content kinda HAS to be in BN itself -- so, you get "round one" of MM vs Flash & GL, but since that was introed in BN#1, the main bit of it has to happen there. Still, I wanted to make a point that J'onn IS (nearly) "as strong as Superman", PLUS he can shapechange, and read minds and turn invisible... and Barry and Hall should really have no chance whatsoever against him. Not really.

Anyway, for now, I'm "liking" all of this -- I'd rather not, all things considered, have rivers of gore, but if you're doing "zombies", that kind of comes with the territory. ASSUMING that this gets an ending that restores heroism and hope (I know, I'm a fool), then I'm down with this little detour, and I'll give it a solid GOOD.

What's weird to me is that it's selling pretty poorly, compared to my expectations -- we sold more copies of WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 so far than we have of BN #1... and that's even with us giving out the BN ring with purchase. I expected BN #1 to sell like FINAL CRISIS, but it seems to me that the "DC fans" have lost a lot of thier faith in these kinds of events...

Anyway, as always, what did YOU think?