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Last year, DC Comics celebrated a huge milestone. I should really say comic books in general celebrated a huge milestone because the world was first introduced to Superman in the pages of Action Comics, created from the young minds of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Now that trend continues again this year as another legendary character celebrates 75 years of comic book existence. Arguably the most popular comic book character (or least one of the top three), Batman continues to thrill and amaze after all these decades of storytelling. Interestingly enough, his title was almost cancelled in 1964 and Batman was going to be killed off. A few changes to make him more contemporary helped stave off his demise but it wasn’t until a certain television series helped put the character prominently in the minds of everyone.

While the campy 1966 Batman TV series helped foster a new interest, it made the character almost too comical. It wasn’t until Dennis O’Neill and Neal Adams brought Batman back to his original dark roots in the 1970s that firmly put a stamp on who the character is. No one has looked back ever since.

But comic books have become big business these days. Both Warner Bros. and Disney, the parent companies of DC Comics and Marvel Comics respectively, are raising the bar and taking this competitive nature between these two comic book companies to a whole new level. This is quite evident in the way they have tackled the whole film industry. Marvel has definitely solidified its movie making abilities with a slew of successful films and they don’t seem to be slowing down. DC has finally gotten its act together and is trying to reclaim its might in the box office.

But it does come back to the source material. Collecting comic book these days is a very expensive hobby. An average issue costs between $3.00-$4.00 these days. I do admit that I rarely pick up single issues anymore opting to waiting until issues are released in collections, which is why I appreciate Free Comic Book Day and the reason for this whole exercise.

For many years I hosted an annual event on called The Funny Pages Write-Off. It’s a celebration of comic books in general and how it extends beyond the confines of the printed page. These characters are bombarded everywhere now. However, with the demise of, this write-off didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Almost.

In celebration of all the festivities surrounding this popular genre, the seventh annual Funny Pages Write-Off begins again. Write a review related to comic books and comic strips. Notice I say comic books and not just superheroes. It can be about comic books, graphic novels, movies, toys, clothes, television shows, cartoons, novels, video games, and anything else you can think of. Did you ride the Superman roller coaster at Six Flags? That totally counts for this. Did you visit Metropolis, Illinois, the “Hometown of Superman?” That counts as well. Anything related to comic books counts.

Even better, find obscure references that mention anything about comic books, such as the movie Office Space implementing a quick-rich scheme based on the machinations that happened in Superman III or the argument over the best Silver Surfer artist (Jack Kirby or Morbius) in the movie Crimson Tide.

This will be the summer’s blockbuster write-off so have fun from now until the end of August. Give me a shout in the comments section if you do participate. It doesn’t matter where you write your review. It can be on another writing site, your own blog, anywhere at all, as long as I can link back to your original review. I’ll list and link your review(s) to this page.

Check out these previous entries:
2008 Funny Pages Write-Off (186 reviews)
2009 Funny Pages Write-Off (90 reviews)
2010 Funny Pages Write-Off (279 reviews)
2011 Funny Pages Write-Off (301 reviews)
2012 Funny Pages Write-Off (253 reviews)
2013 Funny Pages Write-Off (156 reviews)


carstairs (17 reviews)
Books: Melissa Explains it All  || Calvin and Hobbes: There’s Treasure Everywhere
Movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier  ||  The LEGO Movie  ||  Guardians of the Galaxy  ||  Ghost Rider  ||  The Rocketeer 
Ornaments: 2014 Hallmark Ornament: Snoopy #17  ||  Hallmark’s High-Flying Hero Ornament: Rocketeer  ||  2014 Hallmark Ornament: Good Grief, Charlie Brown  ||  2014 Hallmark Ornament Disney/Pixar Legends #4: Edna Mode  ||  2014 Hallmark Ornament: Hangin’ with Count Snoopy 
TV Shows: Sabrina The Teenage Witch – Season 7  ||  Smallville – Season 7  ||  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season One  ||  The Big Bang Theory, Season 7  ||  Arrow, Season 2 

elvisdo (8 reviews)
Editorials: Thor Tells Shania Twain “I Feel Like a Woman!”  ||  Superman Embraces the Dark Side of the Force  ||  Move Aside, Xena! Wonder Woman is the Original Warrior Princess!
Events: Marvel Universe Live! 
Movies: Justice League: War  ||  Guardians of the Galaxy
Toys: LEGO DC Super Heroes: Superman: Metropolis Battle  ||  Imaginext DC Super Friends: Brainiac 

mariedragonfire (9 reviews)
Books: This Pen for Hire
Editorials: Thor to Become a Woman  ||  Holy Limited Edition Boxset Batman!  ||  Guardians of the Galaxy is Still Awesome on Second Viewing 
Movies: X-Men: Days of Future Past  ||  Transformers: Age of Extinction  ||  The Simpsons Movie   ||  21 Jump Street  ||  Guardians of the Galaxy

I just finished reading the collected Blackest Night hardcover edition and really loved the entire story from beginning to end. Death has been a revolving door in the DC Universe and it feels like this is finally addressed, at least for now. But the more I was reading this story, the more I just realized that certain pieces were falling into place concerning the Justice League. Is it possible that the original seven will eventually reform the Justice League? I pose this question because of the players involved.

Infinite Crisis re-established that Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter are the original seven who formed the Justice League of America. At some point, every single one of these heroes have died and returned, some more than others. Don’t believe me. Take a look at the running stats.

Superman—died at the hands of Doomsday (Superman); killed during the Obsidian Age (JLA)
Wonder Woman—killed by demons (Wonder Woman); killed during the Obsidian Age (JLA)
Batman—killed during the Obsidian Age (JLA)
Flash (Barry Allen)—died saving the world (Crisis on Infinite Earths)
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)—died reigniting the sun (Final Night)
Aquaman—died saving Atlantis (Aquaman)
Martian Manhunter—killed during the Obsidian Age (JLA); killed by Libra (Final Night)

As you can see everyone has tasted death and returned, even Batman. Now all the players seem to be back in place for a resurrected Justice League of America revival, in the same vein that Grant Morrison did with JLA. The difference this time is having the original members back in play. Once Bruce Wayne returns from his jaunt through time, can this possibly in the works? Considering how DC Comics is pushing Green Lantern to super stardom and hopefully the start of a new DC movie continuity, it would be in DC’s best interest to put all their eggs in the basket again with the original Big Seven in the Justice League.

Grant Morrison has put both Batman and Bruce Wayne through the wringer when he took over the writing helm for the flagship title. Bruce Wayne met his “demise” during Morrison’s Final Crisis limited-series, or so everyone thought. The astute comic book reader knows that Bruce Wayne is not gone and the legend of Batman will never die. Thanks to Darkseid’s Omega Effect, Bruce Wayne finds himself lost in time trying to find his way back to the present. I actually find this take very amusing and a great homage to his time traveling days back in the mid 1940s. Yes, Batman “traveled” through time thanks to the “time travel hypnosis” of Professor Carter Nicholas. As absurd as the concept may sound, it allowed for some amusing stories where Batman and Robin were out of their usual element. The current story of Bruce Wayne riding through time has a similar sci-fi feel of its predecessor.

But while Wayne is still gallivanting through time and space, his former sidekick Dick Grayson (Nightwing and the first Robin) has finally stepped up and taken over his mentor’s role as the Dark Knight. What readers see is a different take on the Batman persona. While Grayson keeps up public appearances of making Batman a grim avenger of the night, he is also having fun with it in his own way by the way he interacts with his fellow peers. That grim persona doesn’t extend to these people he calls his friends and it’s a very refreshing way of looking at how Batman can actually lighten up.

With that said it’s inevitable that Bruce Wayne will reclaim the mantle of the bat. But does that mean Grayson has to give it up? Grant Morrison doesn’t think so as he starts introducing Batman Inc. in October 2010. Is it possible that many people can be called “Batman?” It’s an interesting concept and one I definitely want to see explored considering how many heroes with the same name operate in the DC Universe, the two most prominent coming from the Green Lantern and Flash camps.

Many can argue that the title “Green Lantern” is a designation given in the same vein of saying police officer or fireman. I don’t disagree and when it comes to the Green Lantern Corps, the shoe fits. However, I’m looking at the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and his Silver Age counterpart Hal Jordan. For years both have been called Green Lantern and no one confuses the two at all.

The same can be said with Flash. For years the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick shared his name alongside his Silver Age compatriot Barry Allen. When Allen died, Wally West took over the role and ran alongside Garrick. While they were all called the Flash, no one confused any of them even with Barry Allen now back in the fold. I do appreciate the slight costume alterations to distinguish one from another to make things easier and each of them maintaining their own personality.

I can see a similar venture for Batman. What excites me, first and foremost, is the return of the yellow oval bat symbol and I, for one, applaud its comeback. While I have no problem with the giant, black bat logo, I feel the oval elevates it more graphically and pays a homage to the Silver Age. I love it. It also differentiates from Dick Grayson’s Batman costume, if he continues to wear it.

But is the world ready for multiple “Batmen?” It works well for other heroes like the Flash and Green Lantern, but is Batman a character who falls into that same situation? Or is he better off being a single entity all onto himself? That’s a question only Morrsion can answer as he orchestrates this new era for the Dark Knight… er, Dark Knights. Morrison continues to amaze me with his ideas and I definitely want to see how this one fares out.

The announcement was made that Wonder Woman was shedding her familiar star-spangled outfit and trading it for a more modern look. And, as expected, the outrage is heard all around the world and even to Themyscira (Paradise Island for those not in the know). I find it really amusing that such a cosmetic change can cause such a ruckus especially when the public at large is not privy to why such a decision was made in the first place.

DC Comics, the company the produces the Wonder Woman monthly comic books is a corporation, first and foremost, They know what they are doing by changing the status quo; they are no dummies. Controversy is the key to spotlighting a character that still hasn’t made it on par with Superman and Batman despite her impressive longevity in comic books. Many strides over the years have tried to elevate her status even despite the fact that DC Comics markets these three characters as the “Trinity” of the DC Universe. Keep in mind that this change of clothes won’t last. Not because it’s a bad idea but because it fits within a storyline.

Yes, it’s all about the story. New Wonder Woman writer J. Michael Straczynski has stated that the fans saw Diana as a matronly figure rather than young and sexy. I find that statement rather amusing considering she is already running around half naked fighting crime. That’s not sexy enough?

Straczynski is really saying that the story he is writing drives the use of a new costume. Time and space has been slightly altered. As a result, Diana has spent a lot of time raised on the streets instead of Paradise Island. She doesn’t have all her powers as of yet and will need to solve this mystery of her “other life.” Therefore, this outfit, designed by superstar artist Jim Lee, makes sense in the context of the story (there’s that word again). I have no doubt she will return in all her golden tiara, silver deflecting bullet bracelets, magic lasso, stylized golden eagle/”W”, and star-spangled panties glory. After all she has been around for almost 70 years and it’s hard to fool around with tradition (just look at what happened to Classic and New Coke).

I have seen this too often in comic books and am not even jarred by it anymore. It becomes a waiting game now as to when she will return to her traditional costume. After all, other characters have experienced controversial costume changes in the past only to have the status quo returned.

In 1998 Superman lost his fabled powers and developed electricity-based abilities. In order to contain his very being, a special containment suit was created that allowed him to use and control his new abilities. Incidentally, when he powered off, he became a normal human being. Many people referred to this as the “Electric Blue Superman.” To add salt to the wound, the creators split this Superman into two creating Superman Blue/Superman Red, homage to the old imaginary tale from the 1960s. This was a commentary stating that Superman’s character would still be the same regardless of the powers he possesses. Throughout that time period, Grant Morrison utilized Superman’s new powers the best and this was all in Morrison’sJLA series.

Take Bruce Wayne out of the picture, replace him with a character named Azrael, and a new Batman is born. The whole familiar costume slowly changed into an armored version of the Dark Knight during the whole “Knightquest” storyline in the Batman titles in 1993. This Batman proved to be violent and a “take no prisoners” type of attitude. In essence if the Punisher became the Batman, is this how he would be? The costume evolved into its own monstrosity and was never a favorite of mine. But again it was a social commentary against the violent heroes in comics at the time and showcasing that Batman’s traditional way made for a better hero.

Out of all the costume changes I actually liked Spider-Man’s black costume the best. Making its debut in Marvel’s limited series Secret Wars in 1984, Spider-Man tossed away his red-and-blue suit in favor of a black one. Honestly, I loved it. Something about it made him look sleek and streamlined. However, while I love the outfit, it didn’t feel right on him. It gave Spider-Man a darker appearance than he needed.

Awaiting the Return of the “Real” Wonder Woman
I’m not worried about Wonder Woman’s new look. There’s a chance that people will actually embrace and accept it, but they shouldn’t get their hopes up. She will sport her familiar garb before it is all said and done. Like it said, it’s just a matter of when that will happen. In the meantime, Straczynski has a story to tell and I am interested to see where this direction is heading. The bottom line: who’s going to remember this ten years from now?

I have been loving the animated films from the DC Universe Animated Original Movie line ever since it was first announced back in 2006. The first animated feature Superman: Doomsday did a great job of adapting the popular “The Death of Superman” storyline in 1992-93. From there so many great stories have made it from the comic book to the big screen. I got ambitious and made a quick guide of the movies made to date that can be found over here. I hope you enjoy this cheat sheet.

“In Blackest Night”

Hal Jordan was considered to be the best Green Lantern ever, a pretty impressive statement considering he is only one of the 3600 members who belong to the fabled Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force that patrol the universe to maintain the peace. Only those born without fear could wield the most powerful weapon in the universe fashioned in the form of a tiny power ring and fueled by the ring bearer’s tremendous willpower. Jordan possessed these and much more. Unfortunately even the best can fall from grace, and when they do, they fall harder.

Hal Jordan went mad after the alien warlord Mongul destroyed his hometown of Coast City. This led him to lose control, become corrupted, and seek more power in order to resurrect what was lost. He made sure nothing would stand in his way. Not his masters, the Guardians of the Universe, or even his comrades of the Green Lantern Corps, slaying many of them to obtain the energies from the Central Power Battery, the source of all Green Lanterns’ power.

The Central Battery was destroyed along with all but one of the Guardians of the Universe. The Green Lantern Corps fell. And Hal Jordan became a cosmic force called Parallax, trying to recreate the universe in his own image. He failed after being thwarted by his former friends and teammates of the Justice League. However, when the Earth was threatened Hal Jordan reappeared and made the ultimate sacrifice to reignite the sun. Everyone thought this would be the final end of Hal Jordan.

But in comicdom, no one stays dead forever. Hal Jordan came back when his soul was joined to the Spectre, the Wrath of God, and a new chapter in Hal Jordan’s life began.

Even though Jordan was back, it still wasn’t the same and the comic book fans clamored for him to return as his rightful role as Green Lantern. The trick, however, was how to undo all that came before he plunged into this downward spiral.

***Read the full review over here.

I just finished reading three volumes of Trinity by DC Comics collected in trade paperback format. I’m glad I read it this way instead of getting the individual issues when they came out in June 2008. This was DC Comics third weekly limited series since 52 garnered interest two years prior. The whole concept of weekly comic books isn’t new but it’s a monumental task to undertake.

When 52 was announced to be the next “big event” immediately following Infinite Crisis in 2006, many, many people didn’t think it would be successful and fall apart midstream. I honestly thought it could be accomplished because of the creative team involved with the project. Four of the biggest writers in the comic book industry—Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid— pooled their talents together to make this happen. The story chronicles the “missing year” between the end of Infinite Crisis and the beginning of One Year Later. More importantly, it showed a world with the absence of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Many second and third tier characters stepped up to the plate and it showed the versatility of the DC Universe. I really think it elevated the roles of Black Adam, Lex Luthor, the new Batwoman, and surprisingly Booster Gold. For all intent and purpose, I feel it was a very successful endeavour. That doesn’t mean lightning can strike twice all the time.

Countdown followed after as the next weekly limited series leading to the events of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis. With Paul Dini at the helm, it should have been magnificent but it quickly showed the signs of falling apart early on. Continuity problems arose with much of the storyline retconned. In fact a lot of what happened was ignored. I feel sorry for the fans that invested a year into this debacle.

Trinity followed suit as the next weekly series from DC Comics. Writer Kurt Busiek and artist Mark Bagley focused on DC’s big three heroes—Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Each book was split into two features: a 12-page lead story by Busiek and Bagley and a 10-page back-up feature by Busiek and Fabian Nicieza with various artwork by Scott McDaniel, Tom Derenick, Mike Norton, and others. I didn’t mind the storyline though I did feel it went on too long.

I find the current “weekly” experiment to be an interesting take with Brightest Day by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi and Justice League: Generation Lost by Keith Giffen and Judd Winick. Each title will alternate every other week with both titles producing 26 issues each.

So why the sudden interest the weekly format? I know fans have clamored for this quite often but don’t understand the work that goes into each comic book. A lot of technological advances have enhanced illustrations, colouring, and even lettering. But there is a give and take to all of this. Meeting monthly deadlines is becoming a harder task to keep. Even more, having multiple artists working on one book already shows the state of a title. This is one of the reasons why story arcs come into play, usually lasting with five or six issues, before a new artist comes on board. I can understand having a fill-in artist from time-to-time but not for every second issue. With these concerns in mind, I can understand why many were skeptical with the announcement of 52 as a weekly installment.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time weekly comic books have been in effect. For less than a year in 1988-1989, Action Comics changed its format from monthly to weekly becoming Action Comics Weekly, starting with issue #601 and lasting until issue #642. It also become an anthology book with stories starring different characters such as Green Lantern, Black Canary, the Blackhawks, Deadman, Phantom Lady, Wild Dog, and others done by different creative teams. I actually didn’t mind this at all and loved the anthology format.

But I think the best example of a weekly format came in the 1990s with the Superman titles. The best thing is that it wasn’t designed to be a weekly format, at least not in the beginning. Superman: The Man of Steel became the fourth monthly Superman title to the published starting in 1991. All of a sudden, there was a Superman title being published every week with Superman (vol. 2), The Adventures of Superman (formerly Superman, vol. 1), and Action Comics rounding up the other three. Under the editorial guidance of Mike Carlin, all of these titles started to synch up with each other and eventually became a cohesive storytelling force. While it may have been restrictive in some sense, it allowed readers to feel as if they were reading a weekly format. This worked very well with major storylines such as “The Death of Superman” and “The Reign of the Supermen.” The triangle numbering on the cover helped readers figure out in what sequence to read these titles.

With the resurrection of the weekly comic book format, DC Comics doesn’t need to look too far for a model to emulate; they already did it very well with Superman.

I remember back when I was a kid (and that was a long, long time ago) how my dad took me to the store and bought me some comic books. There were three or four comic books bundled together in a package for a relatively low price (I think it was $1.00 at the time). It was basically a “grab bag” of comic books because you really didn’t know what you were getting. Some of my first comic books came in this way. I still remember getting The New Adventures of Superboy #5 (by Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger), The Avengers #191 (by David Michelinie and John Byrne), The Avengers #195-196 (by David Michelinie and George Pérez), Super Friends #28 (with art by Ramona Fradon), and Fantastic Four #218 (by Bill Mantlo and John Byrne), to name a few titles. What surprises me the most is the amount of Marvel titles I was reading back in the day considering I’m more of a DC guy. I always thought that the “grab bag” concept was great and definitely a treat for kids who just love getting comic books. This was perfect for long car rides. Buy a few of these packages and you’re set for the trip.

Fast forward to the present day. Since comic book stores have appeared more and more over the years, finding comic books in the local grocery store is becoming more and more extinct. There are a few places such as giant book stores where you can see the current comic books on the rack but it doesn’t have that same vibe. Then I saw something that really shocked me and made me giddy like a kid in a candy store again.

I was browsing through Toys ‘R’ Us with my son and came across a bundle of comic books packaged together. I think there were five or six in a set, and it was done in the same way that I used to get them as a kid. I looked at the comic books closely and noticed that these were old titles from the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the titles I saw were The Shadow War of Hawkman #2 (by Tony Isabella and Richard Howell), The Adventures of Superman #501 (by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett), X-Men #1 (by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee — Storm Cover), and Conan the Barbarian #115 (by Roy Thomas and John Buscema). This is totally fantastic on many levels.

First, what a great way to get some really great comic books from back in the day; second, the bundle costs around $5 making these comics no more than $1 each; last, it’s such a great blast from the past to have some of these titles for a cheap price that you might actually need to complete your collection. As all of this was swimming in my head, I had to see who was distributing these books and noticed the website of Naturally I had to check it out.

As stated on its website, “Cardsone has specialized in buying large closeouts and past years overstocks of entertainment and sports trading cards, comic books, coins, collectibles, and supplies. Cardsone then re-manufactures these products into more desirable, heavily discounted, collectible packages and products. Unlike our competitors, Cardsone manufactured products, provides the retail customer the opportunity to purchase collectibles from past years at drastically reduced prices.”

How great is that! Even better is finding them at five below as well. That’s a guaranteed $5 package. I hope to see more of these packages available at different places. It almost makes collecting comic books fun again without having to worry about the current $3-$4 price tag for each book.

WHAM! BAM! POW! These Local Comic Book Stores Deliver the Final Punch
Local comic book stores are more than just a place to house Superman and Spider-Man under one roof. It’s a place for communities to thrive and embrace its “inner geek.”
Read More

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I used to do a lot of pen & ink illustrations, mostly of comic book characters. Rendering in this fashion really taught me the importance of patience, something I’ve noticed I have been lacking a lot lately. I stumbled upon a scanned image I did of Spider-Man swinging over the city. I think this was drawn back in 1993 or 1994. I remember looking at the image one day and wondered what it would look like in colour. My sense of colour is atrocious and I’ve never really been comfortable applying it to my illustrations. However, one day I did just that in 2006. I took that scanned image and started applying basic colouring layers in Adobe Photoshop to see what I could produce. By no means am I an expert but I was pleased with the finished results. See what you think.