I was intrigued with DC Comics’ Earth One graphic novel series when it was first announced. Even though I enjoyed the highs of All-Star Superman and the lows of All-Star Batman (which made me go into one of my rare internet tear it apart reviews, or as some other internet denizens would call it, “Tuesday”) I still liked the idea of trying to reach out to a new audience instead of pandering to an ever-decreasing and aging one. The Earth One looks like an outreach to the book audience, one that wouldn’t buy a periodical but would be more inclined to buy a book (as opposed to a graphic novel collection). Superman: Earth One was an okay, I guess type of book. But today I got Batman: Earth One and something happened with it that hasn’t happened with something I got at the comics shop in a long time.
I was blown away.
Yes, there have been countless retellings of the Batman story. It seems like it’s been overdone before Elseworlds got a hold of it and offered infinite variations of Batman (Batman in Victorian times, Batman as a pirate, etc. etc.) but this is an interesting story that kept me not only interested throughout, but surprised at every turn.
I’m fighting the urge to tell you all about it and spoil it all over the place, all I can say is get it and discover it for yourself, and thank me later.
One of my stops on my daily internet routine is Comics Reporter. Its different than the other comics news sites, mining a lot of interesting things that would otherwise be missed out. And there’s a couple of things I liked that I wanted to share with you.
Over June, Tom Spurgeon has written a daily feature about comics he read in series form back in the 1980s. Given that he was also in Indiana back then added an additional layer to his trip down memory lane, along with the comics he wrote about. I’ve been to the same shops he’s mentioned in his posts. All of them are grouped in this post, and they’re worth a read.
One of the things I like is the weekly “Five For Friday” feature. Every Friday afternoon/evening, head guy Tom Spurgeon asks people to list five things on a different topic. I participate sometimes, and have a contibution for this week’s 300th post. The topic is “The First Five For Friday was launched on October 29, 2004. That was a long time ago. Discuss your life then and now as follows:
1. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your comics reading life since that date.
2. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn’t changed about your comics reading life since that date.
3. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your personal life since that date.
4. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn’t changed about your personal life since that date.
5. Which of those first four things surprises you the most, and why?”
As Tom opened up a bit about his personal life, it inspired me to write about something in my past I’ve never talked much about here on the blog. Also, last week I found out my one day a week/fill in job was going to change to me filling in 5 1/2 days a week with the possibility of becoming permanent in the future (with less hours at that point, fortunately). I’m trying for a more positive attitude about this change in my life, and looking back at where I was in 2004 (when I also started this blog, coincidentally) helps a lot.
There’s a couple of things Kevin Smith’s been doing that I’m enjoying, and wanted to share with you.
First is a show he started a month ago on Hulu called “Spoilers With Kevin Smith”. The premise is he goes and sees a movie with a bunch of people and they talk about it. Even if it’s a movie I’m not planning on seeing, I still enjoy the discussion. There’s other segments, such as a guest interview, but the cool thing is it isn’t like other talk shows that have become a hype machine plugging someone’s latest product. It’s just someone that Smith thinks is interesting. Carrie Fisher was on the first episode, and Robert Rodriguez was on the last one. Also, there’s the Criterion Lounge where Smith rhapsodizes on a film from the Criterion Collection. Hulu has the films available to watch, but it isn’t contradicting the hype thing I mentioned earlier. Smith really does like the film spotlighted in the segment, and its cool that you can pull it up and watch on Hulu. And there’s a cartoon which is a podcast segment Smith did with Ralph Garman that is animated.
The other thing Smith is doing is a new podcast on his Smodcast Internet Radio called Fatman On Batman. It has Smith discussing his love of all things Batman. And although Smith has written a couple of Batman series, that has only been mentioned peripherally. There have been 3 segments of “Fatman On Batman” and they have been about Batman The Animated Series (BTAS). The first episode was an interview with Paul Dini, and 2 and 3 were interviewing Mark Hamill. Again, the interviews are interesting as they cover more than their parts in BTAS, but a career overview leading them to it. It starts with Smith singing the theme song a la Jerry Reed circa Smokey And The Bandit.
Listening to them at work the other day, it brought back memories of seeing a preview of BTAS at the Chicago Comicon with Kathy, watching the episode “On Leather Wings”, and then seeing the very first broadcast episode previewed on the Saturday morning before the Monday – Friday run, watching “The Cat And The Claw” with my nephew Michael and taping it to watch with Kathy when she got off of work. In the Paul Dini episode, they talked about one of the BTAS episodes toward the end of the run (when it was tachically part of The Superman Batman Adventures) called “Over The Edge” that starts with Batman and Robin being pursued by the Gotham City Police Department and Commissioner Gordon into the Batcave, and the intensity ratchets up from there. When I got home the other night, I told Kathy about the podcasts and it led to a mini-marathon watching of not only the “Over The Edge” episode, but “Mad Love” and “Harley And Ivy”. The last episode wasn’t mentioned on the podcast, Kathy wanted to see it.
A couple of cool things he’s up to, worth checking out.
To keep this blog from becoming “The Continuing Woes Of Tony”, here’s a couple of interesting things I saw at The Beat.
The first is that G4’s Attack Of The Show premiered the Dredd trailer. Here it is, in case you missed it:
Something that doesn’t help my down mood: I made a contribution to this week’s Five For Friday. The topic: “Describe Four Things DC Comics Can Do To Further Exploit The Watchmen Property Or To Continue In The Vein Of Exploiting The Watchmen Property.” Then they were asked to “Name Something You Like About Spain Rodriguez.”
Why is it a downer for me? Well, dummy me had to open my big mouth and suggest to site proprietor and chief cook and bottle washer Tom Spurgeon to use a couple of Watchmen illustrations for my contribution, and he went with all-Spain Rodriguez illustrations for the contributions. Talk about foot-in-mouth disease.
I guess a lot of it stems from my feelings for Before Watchmen falling somewhere between the Official Comics Bloggers Line that it is horrid and should be ignored and reviled at all costs, and the Company Line that it is the greatest thing to happen to comics since Siegel and Shuster created Superman. Yes, the whole creators rights issue is a sad and sordid affair, but I’m not one of those comics fans that blames the creators and their heirs if it affects future comics output. And I wonder if JMS’ justification of “Moore got a lousy contract, we all got a lousy contract in our early careers” is just personal justification or toeing the company line to keep his assignment. Does it really help him sleep at night?
And yes, I am getting some of the comics. Hey, the creative personnel working on them sound intriguing, and at least I’m honest about my intentions. I wonder how many comics bloggers out there toeing the Official Comics Bloggers LIne will end up buying it without saying anything or downloading it illegally to “stick it to the man”?
Forget May 4th being a Star Wars holiday. If any day is a Star Wars holiday (especially in May) it would be May 25th, the anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, or Episode IV, as it would be later called after Empire Strikes Back was labelled Episode V.
As Steve Thompson notes, forget the prequels and all the garbage that has sprung up (especially on the internet) and just recognize how special it was when Star Wars came out in 1977. It wasn’t playing in that many theatres when it premiered, and as Thompson notes, it was a month later before it expanded to more theatres. I can vouch for that, as my research on many a time-killing day would bear that out. Also, in 1980 I was shocked to discover that The Empire Strikes Back wouldn’t be playing in Kokomo (our go-to big city theatres for when we didn’t want to wait to see it at the local Diana Theatre in Tipton) until a month later in June, leading me to talk my parents into taking us to see it at the Eastwood Theatre in Indianapolis, one of the theatres that showed Star Wars for over a year. I got the Marvel Super Special adaptation of the movie at the concession stand. I had read the Don Glut Empire novelisation that came out before the movie, but the struggle between not wanting to know what happened in the movie before seeing it finally won out at the point where Han Solo decided to take the Millenium Falcon to Bespin and Lando Calrissian (a good ways into the film) And I was one of the ones who was able to get the Marvel Super Special adaptation of Return Of The Jedi before the movie came out and read the whole thing.
But it didn’t cost anybody any jobs at Marvel. In fact, as Glenn Hauman points out, Star Wars saved Marvel Comics. Jim Shooter and io9 have more on the story.
The story you hear about how the Ultraverse got shut down is that Marvel Comics bought Malibu Comics for their coloring department, and that was the only thing Marvel wanted out of the deal. But it’s coming out from a podcast with Steve Engelhart that while there were plans to integrate the Ultraverse into the Marvel Universe, nothing happened because of the clause entitling the creators to 5% of the profits. Once again, this is why we can’t have nice things.
I’m wanting to get back online,honest. I am making small strides here and there. I made a contribution to this week’s Five For Friday list at Comics Reporter. The topic is “Name Four Series You Read Religiously In The 1980s, And One — at #5 — You Wish Had Joined Them In Your Reading Pile But You Didn’t Get To Until Later.”
I thought I had a pretty good list. As usual, some of the suggestions others made would’ve made my list as well. The honorable mentions of comics I read in the 80s are Zot!, ‘Mazing Man, Nexus, Dalgoda (the last two I didn’t mention because Tom Spurgeon mentioned them in his list, and I wanted to make my contribution more unique), Swamp Thing, The Rocketeer, John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run, New Teen Titans, and Ralph Snart Adventures. And American Splendor and Cerebus would’ve been excellent contenders for the one I didn’t get to until later slot.
I got home after the show around 3:15am and went to bed. I have to go to work soon. And I have to deal with a couple of things here, not to mention worrying about the dryer being out. So this’ll have to be quick.
You’ve already decided whether or not to see The Avengers and how (3D, IMAX, etc.) If you’re going, the major question is whether or not it’s any good. It is. Kathy wants to go see it Sunday, and I can’t wait to take her. Worth going in whatever format (and consider upgrading to 3D and/or IMAX, it’s worth it).
There a couple of things in the end credits, one halfway through and one at the end.
I think that’s it.