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October 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Daniel's Comic Book Column # 12: A YEAR, A FEW MORE QUICKIE REVIEWS, SOME TV
October 2002 by Daniel P. Dern (ddern@world.std.com)
also: Ern's 2 cents (put more sciffy in your comix)

A YEAR OF WRITING ABOUT COMICS

This is the twelfth of these columns, which means I've been doing this for a year now. I've got no cosmic thoughts about this. I've been enjoying it. I'm still paying for all the comics I'm talking about -- nobody's (yet) sending me any free reviewer's copies. (Not a complaint, just an observation. OK, and a hint.) Oddly enough, I haven't gotten
any reader email -- do I need to insult somebody, or say I like Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern (I'm not saying I do or don't), or what? Offer a prize or two?

TITLE TO WATCH FOR: BATMAN

I could have sworn I said something about this last month. Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee are talking over the help on BATMAN, starting with issue #608, due out later this October. (See DC's web site for more info.

It promises to be a doozy of a ride, plotwise, and the art will be  fab-u-lous.

I've already told my comic store to pull (save a copy of, add to my reserve list) this one for me.

Also worth considering is Alan Moore's imminent four-issue miniseries
Batman: Family.


A FEW MORE QUICKIE REVIEWS OF (SOME OF THE) COMICS I'VE BEEN READING

THE FLASH #190 (November 2002) (DC, $2.25) "Rat Race" Geoff Johns, writer; Justiniano, penciller; Wallace Wong, inker

For those of us who were kids during the "Silver Age," the Flash was in many ways emblemmatic, or whatever of the era: lovely art by Carmine Infantino, great (often whacky) super-science plots by Garner Fox, Murphy Anderson, etc., and/but relatively simplistic characters and relationships. But at some point, Silver Age Flash Barry Allen got caught up in a long, downward spiraling plot.

THE FLASH #190Then Barry Allen bought the speed farm towards the end of the Crisis of Infinite Earths, and Wally West upshifted from "Kid Flash"to "The Flash." (Quite a few years ago by now, to be sure.) Things got often more interesting, to say the least. A great supporting cast has developed, including young speedster Impulse, who's had his own often-great comic for a few years now.

Lately, the story arcs (plotlines) in the Flash have been intense, dark, even somewhat gruesome over the past year -- but also compelling. The artwork has also been, well, different -- that's not a criticism, it's simply a statement.

The bunch of rogue Rogues trying to take over Flash's town just got whupped last issue, now the question is, what happened to the Pied Piper, who had become Flash (Wally West's) friend some years back.

The mayhem continues in # 191

I'm not sure whether this is turning into a train wreck I can't take my eyes off of, or an engrossing story line.

THE LEGION (of Super-Heroes), DC, $2.50 Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, writers

The Legion of Super-Heroes (LSH) has numerous dedicated fans. Sometimes I'm almost one of them. I tuned in a bit late to the great Levitz/Giffen years, catching up mostly through the reprint issues and the quarter bin. I bought and read Bierbaum/Giffen or whatever I-thought-often-hard-to-follow multi-year saga of Mordru/Universo/Emerald Empress/Vat SW6 (or whatever), which I think made slightly more sense when I reread them in one or two sittings.

Then I gave up again, two "reboots" ago.

But while I wasn't looking, LEGION got interesting and good-looking again. (I couldn't stand the art on the previous round.)

I'm dipping my toe in again. We've got more familiar characters again, albeit not always with the personalities long-time fans remember. Some new names, some costume changes, and I've clearly missed a lot of plot stuff. The art's
very strong again. I'm wavering on this title, but going to keep watching it for a while.

DAREDEVIL (Marvel, $2.99) Brian Michael Bendis, writer; Alex Maleev, artist

A few issues ago, Daredevil got "outed" in terms of his "secret identity" of Matt Murdoch, blind lawyer, being revealed. Now he's dealing with the consequences. It ain't pretty. But it's well done. I loved Frank Miller's run on Daredevil years ago; I don't know if I can watch old Hornhead get dragged down again, though.


COMICS MENTIONED LAST MONTH AND STILL WORTH FOLLOWING:

I did quickie reviews of these titles last month; based on subsequent issues, I still recommend 'em: GREEN ARROW, HAWKMAN, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

And again: a) hop on BATMAN with the issue out this month (October), and check out the next issue of SUPERGIRL (#75), so we can find out who the blond in the rocket is.

SOME COMIC RELATED TV SHOWS FYI

The Tick: Arguably, the brief live-action version of The Tick was the truest to the spirit of comics TV show I've seen in a long while. (I hadn't read the comic, FWIW.) But there's still some stuff worth checking out.

Smallville: First of all, if you haven't been watching Smallville (Tuesday night on WB, right after Gilmore Girls), you've been missing a great show. Smallville gives us Clark Kent before he became Superman -- "no tights, no flights." (Also no glasses.) (Not clear whether he'll start flying this season, though.) The tweaks on continuity have been remarkably minor, for a TV adaptation -- Clark Kent's a  high-school teenager in more or less the present year, his rocket from Krypton was accompanied by a heavy duty Kryptonite meteor shower which turned lots of the area into a locus of Kryptonite-enhanced weirdness (think "Roswell Creek" meets the Sunnydale "menace/monster of the week" phenom). Clark's powers are still emerging (we've seen him discover X-ray vision -- yes, he does briefly see into the girl's gym locker room). But it's true to the spirit; like Buffy, it's also the story of the challenges of becoming an adult -- with the added layers of irony and foreshadowing because we know how a lot of it all comes out.

Highly recommended.
(See www.SmallvilleNews.Com   and WB's Smallville site for additional info.)
DC's starting up a Smallville comic book tied to the show, FYI.

Birds of Prey: This show premieres after I've submitted this column (even granted that I'm late with it)
In the comic book of the same name, the Birds of Prey are Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Catwoman (Selina Kyle) and Oracle (Barbara Gordon), plus occasional guest birds, as it were, e.g. Power Girl. The comic's set in current DC Batman continuity. (E.g., Oracle's getting it on with Nightwing, a.k.a. Dick Grayson, the former Robin.)

Unlike Smallville, the premise of the Birds of Prey TV show is way different from that of the comic book. It's a decade or so after today. (That's all I'll tell you.)

I'm prepared to overlook that. It's still three women (in impractical but visually interesting -- dare we say "effective but alarming" -- costumes), fighting crime. (Quote is from "Pirates of Penzance.")

I dunno if the show will be good, but natch, I'll watch at least the first episode (which is 70 minutes, hope you remembered to set your VCR properly).

Charmed: Normally, I don't watch this, but the Sunday, October 13 episode apparently has them turning into comic book superheroes, so what the hey.

Daniel P. Dern is a free-lance technology writer. He was previously Executive Editor of Byte.com, and still has a supply of Byte.com pocket protectors* to prove it, and no, these are not, repeat not, Motie watchmakers who ate Tree-of-Life root, even if this is SFRevu.

Ern's 2 Cents:

Though I've been a Marvel Fan most of my life, and though Daniel loves the classic DC titles, there are some hot Science Fiction titles coming out from DC and some of the other brands it owns...like Wildstorm and Vertigo. I really think they're worth checking out. Consider: A Star Trek comic written by David Brin. Isn't that worth a look?
(Note: Comic descriptions lifted directly from the DC WEBSITE)

THE RESISTANCE #1 Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey; art by Juan Santacruz and Francis Portela, Cover by Tom Taggart, J.G. Jones, John Cebollero, Juan Santacruz and Francis Portela

A new WildStorm series debuts! The year is 2280 and things are not good. Brian Strum is a kid whose existence has been hidden from the government for his entire life - he and others like him are seen as a threat to the common good of humanity, a parasite on Earth's precious, dwindling resources. Now Brian has been exposed and he finds himself marked for death. His only salvation? A small band of resistance fighters called the Strayz, determined to fight for their right to live - even if it kills them.

LAB RATS #7 Written and illustrated by John Byrne; cover by Byrne DC UNIVERSE | Color, 32 pg. $2.50

An interplanetary adventure begins! Rocketed into the depths of space, the Rats find a world utterly devoid of life. But there's something on that planet that's stalking our intrepid explorers...something they find strangely familiar. Are the Rats being haunted...by themselves?  

STAR TREK®: THE NEXT GENERATION - FORGIVENESS Written by David Brin; painted art and cover by Scott Hampton WILDSTORM | Color, 96 pg. Softcover $17.95

Best-selling science-fiction author David Brin tackles his first-ever Star Trek project, and first-ever graphic novel, collaborating with acclaimed painter Scott Hampton. Captain Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise® NCC-1701-E spot a stray transporter beam in deep space carrying a living being inside. When they bring it aboard, they encounter a mystery for the ages!

STORMWATCH: TEAM ACHILLES #4 Written by Micah Ian Wright; art and cover by Whilce Portacio and Scott Williams WILDSTORM: EYE OF THE STORM | Color,32 pg. $2.95 MATURE READERS

Following their harrowing trial-by-fire, the new members of StormWatch are settling into their new headquarters -- in the basement of the United Nations! As the hunt for Ivana Baiul begins, a new member of the team is activated, and he may hold the key to locating one of the world's most dangerous terrorists. Except a certain team of super-beings might stand between StormWatch and bringing down the bad guy!

Now, doesn't that all look like fun?

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