10 June 2010: DC Comics updates

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DC superheroes

Fellow genre entertainment fans, in the past month or two, I’ve been catching up on comic books and graphic novels. As I’ve noted to new enthusiast David I.S., most, but not all, of the titles I pick up monthly involve costumed superheroes.

On Saturday, 1 May 2010, Janice and I drove to New England Comics and Newbury Comics in Norwood, Massachusetts, for the annual Free Comic Book day. Although weekly comics are supposedly endangered (along with all print publications), I was
pleased to see many younger readers.

Since I’ve been following Batman for years in various media, it comes as no surprise that the “Batfamily” is the largest portion of my print subscriptions. Dick Grayson, formerly Robin and Nightwing, has acquitted himself well in the cape and cowl while his mentor Bruce Wayne tries to find his way back to the present after being lost in time (not unlike Steve Rogers/Captain America over at Marvel). While Grant Morrison’s metatextual take on Batman has been interesting, I’m looking forward to Wayne’s eventual return.

In the meantime, Batman & Robin and Streets of Gotham have focused on the team of Grayson as the caped crusader and Wayne’s bratty son Damien as sidekick Robin. Other former Robins include the vengeful Jason Todd as Red Hood, detective Tim Drake as Red Robin, and Stephanie Brown (formerly Spoiler) as the latest Batgirl. I’ve been enjoying all of these books lately. Some DC Comics stories, such as Kevin Smith’s Widening Gyre and the Eurocentric Batman in Barcelona, are out of continuity (fictional history/news) and explore other facets of the Dark Knight’s career.

Batman and the Brave and the Bold is tied into the current campy Cartoon Network
television series, while the latest Superman/Batman Annual delves into the dark possible future of Batman Beyond. On the other hand, First Wave goes into the past, putting Batman alongside pulp contemporaries Doc Savage
and The Spirit.

Batgirl isn’t the only female member of Gotham City’s vigilante community. I’ve been reading the bad girls trying to be good in Gotham City Sirens and am looking forward to the revived Birds of Prey. The magician Zatanna, who made a faithful cameo in this past season of Smallville, will join Wonder Woman as one of the few superheroines to have her own title in a market dominated by male metahumans — and readers.

Unfortunately, the teams that I’ve followed, such as the Justice League and Titans, have dipped in quality in the wake of last year’s Final Crisis crossover event. I haven’t kept up with the large ensembles of Justice Society or Legion of Superheroes, although Green
Hal Jordan has gotten lots of attention in Darkest Night/Brightest Day, First Flight, and an upcoming cartoon and live-action movie.

Hal Jordan’s pal Oliver Queen/Green Arrow hasn’t fared as well, with his marriage to Dinah Lance/Black Canary (see Birds of Prey) on the rocks, his granddaughter slain, and adoptive son Roy Harper/Arsenal maimed by villains. I’ve been a fan of Ollie ever since Mike Grell’s Longbow Hunters in the 1980s, so it pains me to see the “Arrow family” disbanded.

While I appreciate efforts to bring Ollie back to being an urban hunter and crimefighter, I think the character has been dragged through enough suffering and “reimaginings” lately, even without the ill-advised SuperMax flick on hold. Even Justin Hartley’s surprisingly good portrayal of Ollie in Smallville has been marred by similar attempts to strip away his daredevil sense of humor.

In related media, I look forward to the Brave and the Bold videogame, the Justice League multiplayer online game, and DC Adventures for the D20 Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Ed. tabletop role-playing game. On the small screen, there’s the direct-to-video Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Batman: Year One (plus a Green Arrow short), and the upcoming Young Justice and Green Lantern cartoons.

I’ve fallen behind in reading and blogging again, partly because of business travel to San Francisco and Chicago, but I hope to post soon about Marvel Comics releases, summer television and movies, my trips, and various games!