When DC Comics launched its "New 52" Universe a few years back, Suicide Squad was pretty much the bottom of a barrel that wasn't really in good shape to begin with. Despite being an attempt to revive one of the best, most elegantly crafted and thought-provoking superhero books of the 1980s, the New 52 version was a noisy, soulless mess that ended up doing almost irreparable damage to characters like Harley Quinn in the name of making something more extreme, in a true late '90s Juggalo sense of the word. When the series was finally canceled and relaunched, I honestly wasn't expecting it to get any better, especially since the new lineup included the addition of one of the worst new DC characters of the past several years.
But we're two issues into what writer Sean Ryan (and about 27 artists so far) is doing with the re-relaunched title, New Suicide Squad, and while I'm not sure, I think it might actually be the smartest team book DC's putting out.
If our weekly Ask Chris column isn't enough of definitive comic book (and pro wrestling) opinions for you, good news: ComicsAlliance is proud to present Here's The Thing, a series of videos where you can join our own extremely opinionated senior writer, Chris Sims, as he dives into comics history to explain why you're wrong and he's right.
This week, Chris marks the start of back-to-school season by rolling out of bed at three in the afternoon to talk about all the things you can learn from the extremely educational medium of comic books. Specifically, what you can learn about the ancient art of ninjutsu.
Since it began nearly 20 years (!) ago, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson's Astro City has offered up superhero tales from the perspective of the regular humans who encounter them. Clearly, it's proven to be a concept with some serious longevity. The creative team is still coming up with fresh concepts.
Take the newest issue for example. On sale now, issue #14 of the Vertigo series focuses on an elderly woman named Ellie who runs a roadside museum -- the kind one often finds on long drives out West -- full of what seem to be busted-up robot henchmen. To the superheroes who destroyed them on their way to taking down a supervillain, they were just another obstacle. To Ellie, they're showpieces, and, as the title indicates, friends.
Listen folks, I want to like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a lot. I have a huge amount of childhood nostalgia caught up in those characters, and as an adult, I can recognize TMNT as arguably the single most important independent comic book of all time, a cornerstone that paved the way for a revolution of creator-owned books that continues today. I want them to be good, but there's so much of it, spread across so much media, that it's hard to figure out what to get into if I want something that's going to live up to those high hopes.
Fortunately, Comixology celebrated the release of the latest Ninja Turtles movie with a sale on the current run of comics from IDW Publishing and gave me exactly the opportunity I was looking for. Since I had only heard good things about those comics -- and since everyone I asked about them told me to just get it all -- I took the plunge ad bought up everything they had, and I've been spending the last few days reading through. And seriously?
What if you woke up one day and your life was completely different? What if all the things you wished for were suddenly a reality -- you have the job you always wanted, the person you want to be with loves you back, and the people you thought were lost forever are alive again?
One of the most remembered episodes of Batman: The Animated Series is "Perchance to Dream," a powerfully dark story in which Bruce Wayne essentially wakes up to a "perfect" life. His parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne, are alive and well; he is engaged to Selina Kyle; and he is no longer burdened with the job of being the Batman. In fact, Bruce learns that someone else, some other disguised vigilante, is effectively ridding the streets of criminals. No need for him to be Batman anymore. Bruce is initially ecstatic, grateful, almost relieved to learn he can live a normal life. "The nightmare is over," he tells himself.
Only it's not.
We discuss the fascinating neuroscience of dreams and the growing research supporting our ability to control our actions in dreams. Furthermore, by raising the scenario of being "plugged into a dream machine," this episode dares us to contemplate the importance of an existence in which we have free will, motivation, and actual contact with an unfiltered reality. Before The Matrix, The Nexus, and Inception, there was Batman: The Animated Series.
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Letterer Saida Temofonte has been working in comics for almost 20 years for a variety of companies including Wildstorm, DC Comics, and Marvel. She is currently lettering many projects from DC's digital division, including the much-beloved Lil Gotham series. She is also a storyboard artist for film.
It takes almost toxic levels of suspension of disbelief to make it through the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, the fifth and worst entry in the film franchise based on the pop culture phenomenon originally created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. That suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with mutant turtles in the sewers who learned kung fu from a mutant rat to fight a villain wearing a suit of knives. No, the TMNT are as ingrained in our imagination as any other 20th century commercial institution at this point, and if we're seeing the film at all, they've already got us in the theater—we've bought the premise like we've bought our ticket. Rather, this new TMNT suffers from the other, worse kind of suspension of disbelief: Filmgoers are asked to turn off their brain, ignore all logic and just accept the fact that every action taken by every character makes no sense at all.
Q: Just watched the latest Here's The Thing. I'd love to hear you expound on some of the attempts at re-creating Spider-Man. -- @stophatinisbad
A: In case you missed it, this week's episode of Here's The Thing was focused on the idea of legacy and how it shaped the Green Lantern franchise -- and how it ultimately failed to really take hold in the way that it did in books like Flash and -- but one of the things I mentioned was that Kyle Rayner was one of many attempts to create a character in the mold of Spider-Man. It happens like clockwork, not just at DC and Marvel but across the board, and it's one of the most important aspects of how superhero comics developed.
So really, I'm glad you asked, because the reason behind this gives me a chance to dive into some of my favorite subjects, like the socioeconomic impact of the rise of the teenager as a social construct, and how that led directly to the creation of Darkhawk.
Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!
This week: Dr. Nemesis is delightful, Bill Sienkiewicz foreshadows himself, Dracula hits on absolutely everyone, Blade Godwins a crossover event, Jubilee get a jet ski, the X-Men do Castlevania 2, Rachel and Miles pick a vacation destination, and Cyclops wants you to follow your heart.
This week, Marvel Comics announced that it's planning to publish a new printing of the Howard the Duck Omnibus in October, collecting the character's first appearance, all 33 issues of the original Howard the Duck series, and several other appearances in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Treasury Edition, and Man-Thing.
It's the first time the omnibus has seen print since 2008, and it's a great resource for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with Howard -- a great, satirical character often held in low regard because of the 1986 movie. It's also an opportunity to get to know the work of Steve Gerber, the writer who co-created the character with artist Val Mayerik. Gerber died in February 2008, six months before the original release of the omnibus, and did not hold very positive feelings towards Marvel for decades after his Howard the Duck comics were first published.
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