Tuesday, March 29, 2016
And here we are with part 2 of our DC Rebirth impressions. Last time we covered the Trinity since they had so many books that needed to be done, this time we knock out the remainder of the DC Rebirth launches.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
After months of hype and vague, curious teasers, the DCU Rebirth finally stands unveiled. Obviously, I've been critical of DC for quite some time--from the downfall of the New 52, to the rapid dissolution of DCYou. In some way or another, try as I might, so much of what they've done has turned me off. That's part of why I stopped doing Bottom of the Pile. Yeah, Marvel's doing great...but DC's the heart and soul of my comic book love. In all honesty, if they'd screwed this up, I might have given up on 90% of comics altogether.
But that's not what happened! DC did their stream and I probably excitedly fist pumped at least four different times, so I think we're good. And while I gave some small impressions on it over on Twitter, I think each book is deserving of a more detailed response, so let's get into that.
Writer: Tom King
Artists: David Finch/Mikel Janin
Between his work on Grayson and Vision, Tom King has become somewhat of an internet darling. But given I'm not a Vision fan and by the time Grayson happened I was too disillusioned with DC to enjoy it, I'll admit to not being sold on the guy yet. But David Finch killed it with this art work (Batman's new outfit looks great) and I've got so many questions. Is Duke an official Robin now? Who's the couple in the background? How's Commissioner Gordon adjusting to life that's 90 percent less spandex?
I'm in on this at least until I get some answers to what on Earth's going on in Gotham.
I'm in on this at least until I get some answers to what on Earth's going on in Gotham.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Eddy Barrows & Alvarez Martinez
First, a visual representation of my reaction to this announcement:
James Tynion was probably one of the most underrated writers for the early parts of the New 52. Talon was actually one of the books I enjoyed the most from DC's Second Wave, and while it didn't last that long, I'm glad to have him back. And more importantly: Tim Drake, Best Robin, has a home now. (A fact made all the more important by the fact that Damian has apparently shoved him out of the Teen Titans. :( ) Billed as a "boot camp" for the young heroes of Gotham, and taught by both Batman and Batwoman, this is everything I've ever wanted in a Batman comic. I'm there, twice a month.
Artists: Javi Fernandez/Marcus To
Tim Seeley, of Hack-Slash fame, takes Dick out of the spy gear and returns him to his familiar black-and-blues. I'm not entirely sold on this one yet. The opening story is that Dick Grayson finds another mentor-type character, which I find kind of absurd. After years working under Batman, years leading the Teen Titans, AND being a solo hero, he doesn't need a mentor anymore. He IS the mentor, something done to great effect in Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin when he turned Damian Wayne into a slightly more tolerable character.
Still, I'm happy to have him back as Nightwing (even though he's seemingly done better as everyone BUT Nightwing since 2009), and I can't help but try anything that Marcus To draws--dude's a legend in the making.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
So while I had no idea who Hope Larson was initially, I was happy to see her there nonetheless. It's great to have DC no longer repeating the mistakes of the original New 52, where the number of female creators could be summed up as "Gail Simone". (An AWESOME writer, but DC can do better than one woman writer on 52 titles.) Still, when she explained that she was going to take Barbara out of Burnside, and out of Gotham to take her around the world to "level up" as Batgirl, my hype levels went through the roof. It reminded me of some of my favorite parts of Chuck Dixon's Robin, when Tim Drake went globe-trotting in order to become a better partner for Batman, and reminding me of one of my favorite comics of all time is never a bad thing.
I do hope she gets a new costume though. Not because I dislike the Burnside duds, but just because I love seeing my heroes in new suits.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey
Artist: Claire Roe
Nnngh. Awesomeness overload. I just said I was a sucker for new costumes, and they got me here. Huntress' new outfit looks fabulous and Black Canary looks gorgeous in that new jacket with the eagle design on the back. The idea of a fake Oracle is a little weird since Oracle was basically a super-genius that's nigh-impossible to mimic, but its also weird enough for me to welcome it, so I'm signing on for the forseeable future when the book launches in August. I do hope they expand the team over time, but for now it makes sense to keep the group small.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham, Stephen Segovia
While I loved Dan Jurgens' work on Booster Gold in the pre-New 52 era, it's actually unexpected to see him back on Action Comics after he spent so many years working on the character in the 90's. In any case, I could have misinterpreted, but from the sound of things the Superman here is the one from Lois and Clark mini-series? Which means this is the Superman from pre-Flashpoint, husband of Lois Lane and father of Jonathan. Things aren't completely clear on this yet--hopefully someone will get an interview with Dan before the con ends, otherwise we'll be waiting until the book launches in June. Either way, we're supposed to have a "new Clark" and a "new Superman", which is a mystery strong enough to bring me in for the forseeable future.
I'm also all-in on the idea of Lex Luthor turning into a guy who hates Superman so much he's literally turning into him, trying to usurp his power and place in Metropolis/the world.
Writer: Gene Yang
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
I didn't really have any love for Gene Yang's last Superman run. De-powering Superman, revealing his secret identity--none of that were things I was terribly interested in reading for the Man of Steel. But this? This I can get down with. It's also how you properly do diversity. You don't erase the characters you had. Superman's still in Metropolis, handing out work to all the scrubs still stupid enough to challenge a dude with the literal powers of a god, but now you've got this new guy Kenji Kong. A seventeen year old who's granted powers (and a heart) similar to Superman, and gradually grows to be a hero in the vein of the original.
I've seen some outcry against this already, but I expect those people weren't going to be happy with anything other than every Superman book being about the same guy, rather than an expansion of the mythology that's desperately needed. Speaking of that...
Writer: Phil JimenezArtists: Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Luppachino
Phil Jimenez is one of those guys I feel "gets" the way superheroes should be done. They should be beacons of hope. Beings that, while they make mistakes, ultimately represent the best of us, and who we can aspire to be. And it's not our job to being superheroes into our real world, but their job to drag us into their fantastical one. So despite there being virtually nothing known about Superwoman other than Phil's doing the writing and some of the art (alongside the immensely talented Emanuela Luppachino), I've still got faith in this being a great comic. I'm even a little bit hyped, so I'm thinking I'm doing backflips once I actually know what this book is about.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brian Ching
I'm almost sold on this based on Supergirl's redesigned costume and the art alone. Look at that expression on Kara's face! Is grumpy adorable a thing? It should be. In any case, I'm still not sold on the idea of Zor-El being Cyborg Superman, but I'm willing to give Steve Orlando a chance to sell me on it while I enjoy Brian Ching's art. My personal favorite Supergirl was Linda Danvers in the 90's, but Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle created a lovable version of the Last Daughter of Krypton, and if the rep Steve's earned on Midnighter is any indication, this has every chance of being just as good.
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artists: Francis Manapul, Clay Mann
Francis Manapul has lowkey been one of my favorite writers and artists for a very long time. His work with Brian Buccelato on Flash helped me excuse the fact that one of my favorite writers had hopped onto the character for a second run with all these hints that he'd be around for dozens of issues only to essentially leave after a year's worth of comics. His layouts were stunningly creative, still worthy of mention at a time that J.H. Williams was killing it over on Batwoman. He repeated the same job on Detective Comics, managing to keep the gritty realistic feel the city needs while simultaneously utilizing a color palette lost to Gotham City since the Silver Age.
And as a comic, Trinity has been a longtime coming. If we're going to make Wonder Woman feel important, then it's about time we stopped publishing "Batman/Superman" and let the world's most prominent female superhero into the boys' club. And on the subject of Wonder Woman...
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott
If I could give a visual reaction to this, it'd just be a cascading page of the previously linked "Yes" gif for about two pages. I was a latecomer to Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman, but I fell in love with it after the first issue. He gets Wonder Woman. With Greg, Wonder Woman's not your average superhero who simply solves everything with her fists. She's smart; both a writer and a diplomat for Themyscira to the outside world. She's forgiving. With Wonder Woman, you get the feeling that one day she won't have any enemies. Batman's quest ends with him either dying by his villains or jailing them and they're finally too old and decrepit to escape. Superman's a god; his rogues will either give up because he can't be touched or he'll just outlive them all because he's basically immortal. But Wonder Woman? She's so caring that she'll eventually convert all of her enemies into friends. (She's the version of Nanoha that swapped her magic staff for a sword, shield, and tons of Grecian trappings.) And she does all that while being this bad-ass warrior who's an inspiration for women and men alike.
I don't think I've been this excited for a book since they finally announced the release date of Multiversity. I can't wait to fall in love with Wonder Woman again.
That does it for the Trinity's books, though I'm still hoping someone launches a second comic book for Wonder Woman. Tomorrow I'll have impressions on the rest of the comics that were announced.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Last year Daredevil was probably my favorite 13 hours of television for all of 2015, and that's saying a lot since I typically prefer more outlandish, cosmic stuff and DD is about as street-level as it gets. Knowing that, how could I not be excited about season two with its promises of Elektra, the Hand, and the Punisher?
Friday, March 18, 2016
at the end of volume one, Negima was still a fairly standard harem series. There's lots of cute girls and the series is literally drowning in fanservice, with boob size contests and every girl getting upskirted everytime Negi sneezes. Volume two is where Ken tries to make some slight changes to the formula, carefully introducing some fringe shonen tropes.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Hi, guys! Welcome to the newest column on Jumping in Headfirst, where I discuss one of my favorite manga ever: Mahou Sensei Negima! Negima was created by mangaka Akamatsu Ken, most famously known for his work on the archetypal harem series, Love Hina. After Love Hina's massive popularity earned him a spot as one of the most famous mangaka of his era, he followed up with Negima. What initially looked like more a more fantastic version of Love Hina, the series gradually transitioned from a harem series into one of the best shonen manga I've ever read, complete with a massive, well developed cast, deep lore and amazing fight scenes. (Ones where "friendship" isn't the sole reason for every victory.)
Unfortunately, few people are aware of Negima's story improvements or genre change. Once a manga gets an anime the attention shifts entirely to the adaptation. It makes sense: the addition of voice, music, and motion create more immersive experiences. Even I'm no stranger to the idea of dropping a manga once an anime to a series proves itself to be a proper adaptation.
But in Negima's case, this was more of a drawback--adapted long before it ever got off the ground as a proper shonen series, the anime gained notoriety for its early wacky scenarios and goofball characters. So much so, it garnered an unrelated spin-off anime, a manga based on said spin-off, and even a japanese drama. What I'm saying is: the true story got utterly buried, and this is my attempt to unbury it. Over the next few weeks and months, I'll be trying to cover the original Negi series as much as possible--sometimes chapter by chapter but mostly in massive chunks in order to catch up to it's equally cool sequel manga, UQ Holder. For now, I'll be going volume by volume, so let's lead things off with the first six chapters.