Tag Archive: comic book

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.

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 www.cardsone.com. 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.