Friday, June 29, 2012

Freestyle Fridays?

Not even sure I'm going to stick with this, but I like this chick's flow and I needed an excuse to throw her up on the site.  I'll admit, she's British so she's a little difficult to listen to, but she's a talented woman.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Television Sucks: An Outsider's Perspective

You're going to have to bear with me on this one folks, 'cause I'm not really sure where I'm going with this but I have to ask...what the fuck happened to black television?   I don't get it.

It never really occurred to me when I was younger, and I guess because when you're young you assume that what's going on around you is the World As It Should Be, but looking back now I realize how spoiled I was a 90's child.   And while I could go all hipster and say I was one of the first people to notice that years ago, that's nowhere close to my point, which is what I already asked: What the fuck happened to black television?  (Or television in general--but I've got some other stuff I need to get out first.)

At the dawn of the last decade of the 20th century, television had no shortage of programming for African-American audiences.  And unless you just DIDN'T have a television or cable, you saw at least one: The Cosby Show and it's spin off A Different World (both hold overs from the late 80's), In Living Color, Living Single, Martin, The Wayans Bros., The Parent 'Hood, Sister Sister, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, Smart Guy, Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show, The Jamie Foxx Show...   It was simply impossible to miss all of these.  Even kid's networks had shows like All That (which had a mixed race cast but it's urban styled comedy definitely appealed to black children) and Kenan and Kel.  Like I said, it was easy to take for granted what you had because it seemed like it had always been there--if you build a timeline of all of these they run from roughly 1982 (The Cosby Show) to 2001 or so, a nineteen year period.

Now right now, if you're a fan of a lot of black television that airs today, you're probably looking at this article funny and wondering what the hell I'm talking about.  There's plenty of television shows for black people on right now, right?  Maybe, but it's not quite the same.   Look at the networks a lot of these shows aired on: The Cosby Show, A Different World, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air all came on NBC.  The Wayans Bros., The Parent Hood, Steve Harvey, New York Undercover, and the Jamie Foxx Show all aired on The WB, which eventually became The CW after merging with UPN (which aired Moesha).  In Living Color, Living Single, and Martin all aired on Fox.   In short--the majority of these shows were on major, MAJOR networks that reached the largest and widest range of audiences possible.   This gave these shows--and the actors in them--a crossover appeal that's absolutely necessary if you're going to really, really make it in Hollywood.  (Ask Bill Cosby and Will Smith about what crossover appeal can do for you.)

The shows you want to point to now?  What channels do they air on?   BET?  TV One?  Basically, any channel you might call a "black network"?   That's a problem.  Don't get me wrong, it's GREAT that we have multiple networks that we can produce television for--that's something that a lot of African-American writers and directors probably couldn't even dream of back in the 90's.  But in having those extra avenues that we can take, we can't forget that it's also important to get black television onto the big networks where EVERYONE can see them.   Yes, it's absolutely possible for a person of another ethnicity to watch something on BET, but ask yourself this: If you're a guy, how often do you want to turn to Lifetime?   Mmm, bad example as most women don't want to turn to Lifetime either.  (Understandable--it's kinda terrible.)  But you see my point: Networks like that breed an exclusivity that we don't always want or need.

The follow-up to this is that there ARE some black shows on major networks.  House of Payne and Meet the Browns both air on TBS, right?   Yeah, but here's the thing: Those are both Tyler Perry shows.  And no disrespect to Tyler Perry, but he's somewhat of a problem.   Now while I DO have some problems with him as a writer in the way that he portrays black people, this isn't about that.   This is about the fact that Tyler Perry has become so well-known, and such a powerful juggernaut in both the movie and television industry, that Hollywood execs have pretty much got to the point that if they don't see his name SOMEWHERE on your script (writer, director, producer, SOMETHING) it'll probably end up in the garbage seconds after you leave.   I'm fine with Tyler Perry being successful, but I'm not fine with the idea that he's almost the only black person that gets to show his vision to a network audience.

When I wonder how we got to this point, the first thing I have to ask myself is how we managed to get so much quality black programming on television in the first place.  And the answer I come up with is the dawn of cable and the rising popularity of hip-hop in the 90's.   When cable networks first began sprouting up like weeds in the 90's, it created a need for a lot of new programming (nature abhors a vacuum), so when a lot of black writers and directors came up with these shows, they were put on the air because the channels needed SOMETHING to show.   At the same time, you had hip-hop culture becoming more popular by the day in the early to mid 90's, and so many of the shows I mentioned embodied that culture (A Different World, Martin, Moesha, etc.).   It filled a need that television execs didn't know existed, and as a result so many of these series got respectable five to seven year runs because--surprise!--people like to watch shows with characters they can relate to.

But with the 2000's came reality shows, and with that came a way to capture the attention of many without paying a cast of actors, writers, and directors a proper wage.  Just bang out a basic script idea, hand it to some non-union regular people, put a camera on them and voila!  Television that costs little to make but brings in if not more money, then almost the same as what you were airing before.

Unfortunately, that (and a few other problems) are starting to bite networks in the butt.   Type "Death of Television" in Google, and you won't get a bunch of random blog posts.  You get articles from respected websites like Forbes, HuffPo, and BBC.   Every couple years I read a new article with a bleaker outlook on traditional cable television's continued existence.

In embracing reality television, quality was sacrificed for a bottom line.  Remember when the television networks had "blocks"?   Remember "TGIF"?   It ran for way too many years for me to be the only kid that grew up on Boy Meets World, Family Matters and Step by Step.   No one wants to invest in a series and give them real chances--both the Dick Van Dyke Show and MASH are series that were initially not very popular but reruns ended up making them HUGELY popular and by their second and third seasons they were hits.   Meanwhile Fox and ABC are known to cancel series inside of eight or nine episodes, not even letting a full season of a series they short-ordered to begin with air all the way through. 

Cable networks aren't any better.  Remember when they all had an identity?  If you wanted classic science fiction movies and television series as well as the occasional good original series, you watched The Sci-Fi Channel.  Now it airs wrestling.   TV Land had ALL the best older series like Hogan's Heroes, All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Odd Couple and other classic television programs, now if you flip by there it's airing Scrubs.  The "Cartoon Network" airs live-action programming. And don't even get me STARTED on what happened to G4.

So now you've got cable and network channels alike panicking at the idea of Netflix.  Why?  Because Cable and Satellite charge you $60-80/month for all their programming, so much of which you don't even want to WATCH while Netflix charges you $10/month and the only true drawback is that they don't keep you current with your favorite shows.  I'd venture to say that the only thing keeping cable networks afloat are the older people who never acclimated themselves to newer technology, and ESPN.   But as soon as ESPN comes up with an inexpensive, widespread way to allow sports fans to view football/baseball/basketball without relying on television, there will be a serious problem that I'm not even sure CAN be fixed.  But next time I might get into possible solutions, since this article is already long enough.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Four Color Marathons: Robin

Bear with me, true believers.  This is a new thing I'm attempting, and I'm not wholly confident I can do it, but you won't know if you don't try.  Four Color Marathons is a series of columns I'll be doing where I discuss various "runs" on superhero characters that, to me at least, personify not only that character, but just a good example of superhero comic books in general.  I'm not claiming to be the be-all end-all when it comes to comics, but I hope after I finish each one of these columns you'll want to go to either Amazon or your nearest library because I've given you a new series you're excited to read.

So, without further adieu, let's get started.  This week's Four Color Marathons is about one of my favorite superheroes of all time, even if he doesn't actually have any superpowers: Robin, of the famous dynamic duo, Batman and Robin.

Run Length: 1-100
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Tom Grummett, Phil Jimenez, Staz Johnson, Pete Woods, etc.

Usually, when a person thinks of a sidekick, they don't think of a character that's capable of carrying a story all on their own.   This is why characters like "Kid Flash" and "Speedy" don't have rogues' galleries as solo heroes.  (And if they do, they're REALLY obscure.)   And in all honesty, the idea that a sidekick couldn't carry a story on their own was one DC supported for several decades, until November 1993, when they allowed writer Chuck Dixon to launch an ongoing about the most famous sidekick of them all, Robin.  In so many ways, the writer made Robin a comic you simply would not expect it to be, but Dixon's ability to do the unexpected is what made the title such a fantastic book.

To begin with, you'd think Robin's solo adventures begin with him wanting to strike out on his own, tired of his name always coming after "Batman and", right?   Yeahh...not so much:

Dixon specialized in the art of an "action opening" (IE, making the first page so interesting you want to find out what the comic is about, via something like the main character being in danger), but here it actually serves the purposes of Robin's opening issue quite well.   Now, for those of you wondering just why Batman looks like he and Tony Stark have the same tailor, there was a story done back in the early 90's called "Knightfall" where the "original" Batman had a tussle with Bane.  Most readers probably know where I'm going with this, but for those who don't, the ending of the story was Bane breaking Batman's back, leaving him a paraplegic.  Obviously unable to continue being Batman, Bruce Wayne passed the role on to another.   Unfortunately, rather than do the logical thing and pass it on to his first sidekick who "graduated", he found some relative nobody named Jean Paul Valley and named him the new Batman.  Valley eventually became more and more mentally unstable (as you can see), and along the way decided that Gotham needed a new, stronger Batman--hence the outfit you see above.   The entire thing was a huge crossover that ran roughly a year and a half, and it was during that time period that the Robin comic book launched.

And while launching a brand-new book during a gigantic, multi-part crossover that spanned eighteen months and who knows how many monthly ongoings may not SEEM like the brightest idea, it actually worked out quite well for the Robin series.  With the real Batman gone and the replacement forced Tim Drake/Robin to operate on his own.   And Dixon wastes no time developing Robin into a competent, three-dimensional character.   In the first two issues alone we see Robin escape from an addled, armored Batman, gain a sweet new ride that's basically his own version of the Batmobile (the Redbird), and solve a crime involving a chop shop gang without any help from the Dark Knight.  But no superhero is complete without drama in their civilian life, so at the same time we're introduced to Tim's girlfriend Ariana (who he barely has time for between school and being Robin), and learn that his father has been missing for several months; the fallout of his first adventures as Robin (before he was given his own title).

Even better is that Dixon finds a way to make the "superhero love triangle" work without it being the tired "Superman/Lois/Clark Kent"-type deal.  By issue four, he introduces a new character to the series known as Spoiler, a.k.a. Stephanie Brown, daughter of Batman villain the Cluemaster and eligible teenage female superhero who has a thing for our caped crusader.  And while the idea of a superhero who has girls chasing after him in BOTH his identities isn't exactly new (look to a certain Web Head for that), it never fails to add an extra dimension to relationship drama that's entertaining to read about.   Plus, personally, I've always found it more interesting when superheroes date each other anyway.  Where else can you get this:

 And if you think after Bruce puts on the cowl again the book suddenly becomes about Tim teaming up with Batman, think again.  This entire run occurs during the most tumultuous period of Gotham City in history--they run through two completely different Batmen, two viruses capable of wiping out the city, an Earthquake, the entire city being declared off-limits by the United States government and thus REALLY becoming "Arkham City".  More often than not the two are split-up to be able to cover all the trouble in Gotham, making sure that the main character of the Robin series IS Robin.  And those are just the events!  Independent of those, Tim deals with threats from legit Batman villains like Two-Face and Riddler, makes his own villains like The General (a kid roughly Tim's age who believed himself to be the next Napoleon), and gets dragged into battles with ninjas and martial artists that more often than not lead him directly into conflict with the dreaded Lady Shiva Woo San, the most feared martial artist in the entire DC Universe. 

Another thing that made Robin--the title and the character himself--so unique is that unlike the other Batman characters, he had a life completely independent of his superhero gig.  He had school.  He had friends, parents, and a girlfriend.  All of whom he would have to answer to before and after he put on the cape and cowl.  This offered a dynamic to the title that every other Bat-book at the time was devoid of.   For instance, a few years after this run ended, Bruce Wayne would be framed for murder, and Batman's initial response to it essentially amounted to: "I have other identities I can use."  When everyone closest to you is either a superhero or friends with a bunch of superheroes, it means you're pretty much free to come and go as you please.  Tim Drake's home life...the fact that he HAD one at all made him unlike all the other Bat-characters who could assume their superhero guises at their own leisure.  It sort of read like Spider-Man, minus the super-powers cool gadgets.

Fortunately Dixon made sure that the book was never held back by this fact.  Secret identites are supposed to add to the drama and fun of a superhero comic, not suppress it entirely.  One of the most fun parts of his Robin run is that a fair bit of it didn't even take place in Gotham.  Tim spent a number of issues globe-trotting, either to catch criminals or to further his martial arts training.  And that's another aspect of the book I always enjoyed: Tim wasn't finished training!   When you read a Batman title, you go in knowing you're already at the end of Bruce Wayne's personal journey: he's done with his decade long quest to become the greatest detective/martial artist/boxer/lockpicker in the world.  Same with so many other characters--they're most likely confident in their abilities, whether those abilities are enough for the job they've undertaken or not.   With Robin, it's different--before Tim Drake could finish his training he had to put the costume on and get to work, and while you DO eventually see him try to finish his training, he's always second-guessing himself as Robin, wondering if his training is enough, especially considering he partners up with the likes of Batman and Nightwing.  And, y'know...occasionally the Flash:

But what I loved most of all was how seamlessly it all ran together.  See, in comic books today, stories are told in "arcs"--they run anywhere from three to twelve issues, and then once an arc is done, a new one starts up the following issues.  It's easier to collect into "volumes" that they can sell to libraries or in bookstores.  But Robin was written before this concept was as popularized as it is today: instead of having arcs, each issue usually tells a complete story, weaving in sub-plots that will eventually grow to become main plots which go on to completion as more sub-plots are added in the background.   The result is a series that feels like there aren't any abrupt starts or stops, despite the fact that Dixon had to weave in countless crossovers and "major events" in the Bat-world.  And through it all, he managed never to forget that Robin was a teen, dealing with topics like teens in gangs, teenagers having sex and teen pregnancies (surprisingly, these two issues were handled independently), and school violence, all without ever seeming condescending or like a "Very Special Episode"; Tim Drake was simply a teen and he had to deal with issues that all teens deal with, or it would've seemed fake. And even more to Dixon's credit, he did all that without ever forcing personal viewpoints or a specific political agenda.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Chuck Dixon's run on Robin remains uncollected.  And the way trade paperbacks are being marketed, if your library has the individual issues you've got one of the best libraries in the world (and you owe the librarians there cookies).  The only way to find MOST of this series outside of more..illegal methods is going to eBay/Amazon and buying the singular issues.   That or bugging DC until they accept that they were one of the only companies that DID publish decent comics in the 90's.  Still, if you're curious about the early issues, there's a trade collection Robin's first six issues over at Amazon that's worth checking out.

Next time, I'll be talking about a hero everyone is probably a lot more familiar with, given how popular his movies have been and his recent appearance in the Avengers: Iron Man.  Hope you're excited.  (No, really.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

D-Pryde - Album of the Week: Flagship

So like I said, this month I'm intending to make things a bit more musical. I'm starting with discussing one of the newer artists I discovered on YouTube late last year, D-Pryde. An 18 year old artist from Canada, he's easily one of the most popular rappers on YouTube and also one of the most developed, with dozens of videos both rapping solo and with other artists, and with the release of Flagship June 3rd, two mixtapes under his belt.

D-Pryde's sophomore effort is a fairly solid effort from a young artist.  While far from perfect, he easily jumps over some of the missteps that can lead to a boring release from an "underground" artist.  For starters, there isn't a track on here that doesn't have a dope beat to listen to.   The song above, Mobbin', wouldn't be out of place is most clubs.  A lot of underground artists end up picking "real hip-hop" beats with the idea of going against the grain or whatever, not realizing the fact that the reason why major artists don't use those is because they're boring as fuck.  Not a problem here, even the more somber tracks have an enjoyable beat to bump to.

Second, the tireless work effort shows in his ability to cultivate a large following.  With him constantly touring and new songs posted every couple weeks, he's managed to avoid the "why haven't I blown up yet" disease that affects many young rappers on YouTube who post a few songs and wonder why they aren't signed yet.

Lastly, he's not afraid to appeal to the ladies.  There's no such thing as a rapper who's made it big without a large female following (on the contrary, a lot of rappers these days only make it big BECAUSE of their female fans), so there's definitely nothing wrong with having more than a couple tracks on your album devoted to women.   Luckily, both "Mistress" and "Bottom Dollar" are two genuinely good tracks that even dudes can bump without feeling ashamed.  As someone else put it, the first time I played Bottom Dollar it was kinda "-_-", the second playthrough was a "Hmmm...", and the third I was singing, "Well hello and hi there...."

The only problems  I have with this guy are the somewhat cartoonish lengths he's going to avoid dropping "s" and "F" bombs along with the fact that he felt the need to explain away one of his dopest verses ever (and probably one of my favorite verses in a cypher, ever), and the fact that sometimes his lyrics aren't always the most solid on some of the party/club tracks, even if he's got his production and flow down pat. 

But neither of these problems is going to stop me from giving the guy the props he deserves.  With him getting radio play from "Mistress", a decent sized fanbase for an artist who's signed to an indy label, and his second mixtape getting over 60,000 downloads within the first week of being released, there's very little that can stop this guy.  He's only 18, so there's a TON of room for him to grow, which is scary when you consider songs like Palisades Parkway Flow:

In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next from this guy.  With this much talent and a great ear for what makes popular rap music, pretty much the only thing that can stop this guy at this point is himself.    You can get D-Pryde's Flagship at DatPiff.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Fear of Being Conscious

I like to think I keep pretty current with hip-hop/rap, but I'll admit to missing things sometime.   To some extent its because I don't really touch the radio and the club scene in Starkville (no matter how many teenagers call this place "Starkvegas") leaves much to be desired.  And then in general I tend to avoid ignorant shit when it pops up, so when some hip-hop related fuckery rears its head I usually miss it since it tends to be a fad and all fads fade.

But lately, something new has been appearing involving rappers I actually respect, and I can't quite figure it out: a fear of being labeled a 'conscious' rapper, and worse yet a nasty, anti-intellectual undertone from fans and artists alike about people who ARE labeled as conscious rappers.

If you were unaware of the term before now, conscious rap refers to music that discusses social issues.  You might have thought of it before now as "rap with a message", if you'd heard of it at all.   Once you think about it for a second you can probably think of several rappers who fit the bill.   But if you need visual/aural aids:

That song was by hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and soul singing legend Mary J. Blige.  Personally, I think it's an amazing song and the radio could use more songs like it instead of some of the other garbage that makes it onto my local hip-hop station.   But (and this is no slight against the artist at all), the aforementioned creator of the song is apparently so tired of being "labeled" a conscious rapper his next album is entitled "Prisoner of Conscious".   Now admittedly, it doesn't really sound like he's changing his sound or style for the album and it's more an open profession of his desire for hip-hop fans to stop trying to box him into a certain style.

And that's cool.  I can understand artists not wanting to be told what kind of music they should and shouldn't be able to make.  Music is supposed to be an expression of one's inner self, one of the truest examples of freedom possible.  You can't make it without your fans, but even they shouldn't be allowed to impede and direct your creative energies.

...But that said, somewhere along the way I think we forgot that there's a difference between "not a conscious rapper" and "just plain whack".   A huge difference, in fact.  You can still be clever and talented on the mic without having to discuss the socioeconomic repercussions of the "99%" concept.  Case in point:

Little Brother can easily be labeled as "conscious" or "backpack" or whatever, but this is a song with a club beat talking about the trouble the two NC rappers go through to cop fly clothes.   That's as shallow as it gets, but it's still got a good flow and dope lyrics with a banging beat.  THAT'S hip-hop.

On the other hand?

I DARE you to listen to that song with your eyes closed or your back turned to the screen.  You can't, because that shit's whack.  

Even JiH favorite, Childish Gambino, doesn't rap about much of anything other than women and his struggle to be accepted because he was raised different from his black peers.  But he's GOOD at the shit.  His flow and his wordplay are solid.  As far as I'm concerned, you don't necessarily have to rap about jack so long as you've proven to me that you CAN rap.

And you know what?  "Beez in the Trap" is whatever, as a club song.   There's a Phonte line that goes something to the effect of "I ain't mad at the radio, 'cause I don't know what's on it", and that's how I feel about most pop. rap.  I don't hate the song because I won't ever hear it enough to hate it. But I'm gonna need people to quit trying to attack people that can actually rap, and their fans, just because we say this kind of stuff isn't hip-hop.  Because this isn't.   Don't get me wrong, you're welcome to play it until you chuck the CD out your window, but accept that you're doing something completely different from hip-hop, which has rhyme schemes just slightly more complicated than something your six year old cousin could think up. 

Basically?  Get the fuck over it, Peter Rosenberg was right.   And that other cat too.  YMCMB?  You're Making Children's Music, Bro.

But what's more worrying to me is that black people are actually starting to find this anti-intellectual stance acceptable.  Uhm, hell no.  Do you have any idea how hard our ancestors worked to get us to the point where we could HAVE the rights that we have?  There was a time when we weren't even considered fucking PEOPLE.  We couldn't own property, because we WERE property.   We've come far enough now to have a black President, but we're nowhere near a "post-racial society".   (We'll only be that when society doesn't feel they have to use that term.)   And technically, you DO have the right to stupidity (it's not really ignorance when you're choosing it)...but why on Earth would you want to fight for that?

We are rapidly approaching a point where other races don't like us because of our (often televised) ignorance.   When it was "just white people", we had stuff to hide behind.  "Old grudges", we could call it.  "They still couldn't accept that we were actual people.  They're just mad that we have a black President now, and other platitudes."   But what about when people in other races develop a dislike for black people, purely off our behavior that we've shown post-Civil Rights Movement?    George Zimmerman wasn't white, no matter how many black people think otherwise.   He saw a black teenager in a hoodie, he thought criminal.  (This is less about my feelings on that trial--which is that it's pretty much an embarrassment and that he should be in jail--and more about how perceptions got to be that way.)  Or try this.    What's the excuse there.  What are we hiding behind with that?   Don't get me wrong.  No matter what you do, when you're different people are going to hate you just for not being the same as them.  And that's not cool, nor is it acceptable.  But do we really need to GIVE people a reason to dislike us?

Maybe, just maybe, let some of this swirl about in your head the next time you fight for your right to listen to ignorant music, push anti-intellectualist "ideals" and insult people making conscious music.  When all is said and done, the dictionary just defines "conscious" as being aware of one's surroundings.   It wouldn't hurt if we tried that, now and again.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Trailer

So, thanks to a friend of mine I've become a fairly huge fan of Sherlock Holmes.  As a result, when I saw this game pop up on RPGFan I couldn't help getting a little excited.   Admittedly, I'm used to games that involve stuff blowing up, shooting guns or hacking stuff with swords, so a game where you actually use your brain to discover clues and figure things out is going to be new to me, but [insert crap about life being about trying new shit].

Anyway, I love the idea of being able to wander around Victorian-Era England, and the fact that the game appears to be designed for consoles makes me want to buy this.  Let's see if my wallet agrees when the game actually comes out.  >_< 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nine Months Later: DCU Relaunch 2

So yesterday I talked about DC's relaunch and some of the mistakes I felt they made with their marquee characters.  Today I'm going to get into something a little different.  Something that focuses less on the stories and more about the creative teams.

2. Not Enough Talent

So, The New 52 meant DC was going to launch 52 brand new titles, which meant they needed 52 artists and close to 52 writers working for them.  But then you look at the list of writers and any long-time fan has to start asking questions?

Questions like where's Mark Waid?  Well, apparently DC's screwed him over so many times he doesn't appear to have any desire to work for them anymore.  So he's over at Marvel writing the best Daredevil run we've seen in years.

Kurt Busiek?  Apart from health issues, the guy's happily working on creator-owned projects.  Greg Rucka?  Left DC a few years back and like Mark Waid is over at Marvel, making an amazing Punisher run.   Great.  Peter David?  Presumably still exclusive at Marvel, but if not probably has no strong desire to write for DC after the Young Justice thing. Chuck Dixon?  Not working for Marvel OR DC, but seemed pretty peeved when he left Robin prematurely.  Meanwhile indy sensations Brian Wood and Nick Spencer are off doing--guess what?  MORE Marvel work.  Brilliant.

And where are some of DC's best artists?  Working on Before Watchmen.  Darwyn Cooke.  Andy Kubert.  Amanda Conner.  All working on titles that they won't ever get proper respect for, no matter HOW good they are.

Meanwhile long-time DC fans have to sit through article after article of "the 90's are back" because for some reason SOME higher-up at DC thought it was a good idea to give Scott Lobdell not 2, but THREE DC books.  One of which not only had a weak concept, but gave DC far too much bad press coming out the gate in September.  Just think if that one book had been The Question by Greg Rucka.   (For the record, I like Lobdell's Superboy and Teen Titans.)

At the end of the day, this is what it all breaks down to.  Poor timing and bad business decisions from the past caught up with DC when it was time to do this massive reboot that was supposed to "fix everything".  And it got worse over time, as writers (and artists) began leaving books almost as soon as they hit the stands.  This gave fans the mistaken impression that this was all hurriedly put together, but I just don't think it was.  A lot of work went into making sure all the books came to an end in the same month.  You don't DO that without months of planning.

Fortunately, DC's plan appears to be cancelling what obviously doesn't work and launching new titles with different creative teams, in effect turning their entire line into television, with each series getting a pilot and a number of episodes based on it's popularity, only getting canceled if ratings aren't solid enough.   Which means comics like Static Shock go away ( representation of black people is better than a bad one, to me), even if it also unfortunately means ones like O.M.A.C. eventually get canceled too.

And while I DO think DC could've had more creative muscle on their books, I also think that if they're willing to cancel what isn't working to try new things, what they have now is a great base to work off.  There's a lot of potential for different DC characters that haven't been seen in this new continuity to get developed, and I hope DC doesn't let it go to waste. 

3. Why Bother?

Of course, above all, one of the questions that was at the forefront of every person's mind was why should DC even bother with this?  It's not their first reboot, or even their second--why go for another when it's never fixed the problem before?

I dismissed this as silliness, and thought a lot of people who wanted huge changes to DC Comics (like getting rid of half the superhero line) were just being ridiculous.  But the more I think about it, the more I HAVE to ask what WAS the point?

I'm not saying they should scrap most of their comics and create a bunch of Romance and Western comics.  That's silly.  DC publishes Superhero Comics.  And unless the romance comic was about superheroes, there was no way it would get my money or the money of most DC fans.  The renaissance to make superhero comics less popular isn't going to start with DC, or me.

But.  As DC gets ready to reintroduce a formerly straight superhero as gay, I can't help wondering...why didn't they make bigger changes?  Superman could've easily been a black guy.  Wonder Woman honestly should be a lesbian.  And literally NOTHING would've been lost changing Barry Allen into Bethany Allen and creating a love triangle between her, her co-worker Patty Spivot, and interviewer Ian West.  It's a cop-out to change the orientation of someone like Alan Scott when you could do it with an A-List character like Wonder Woman.  You've already pissed off a lot of fans, why not both give them a reason to be mad AND possibly attract new readers at the same time?  The way it is now, nobody's all that happy.

Anyway, Jumping in Headfirst isn't meant to be negative, and it irritated me to write this at all, but for months DC's "new" relaunch hasn't quite been working for me the way I wished it would, and I knew I wouldn't get over it until I tried to get some of my problems with it all on paper.   Anyways, with all of that out of me, look forward to this place getting a little more...musical for the next couple months, hopefully.