Thursday, February 21, 2013

JLA #1 is okay?: Review

DC began the New52 version of the "Justice League of America" yesterday, and I am pleased to say that it is not bad. The premise surrounds the formation of a league of super-humans under the jurisdiction and control of America. While these heroes are to be a shining symbol of American values, they are also responsible for trying to keep the original Justice League in check. The membership of the team includes Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Katana, Catwoman, Star Girl, Green Lantern(Simon Baz), and Vibe. Why these particular characters? Because they can all apparently counter a member of the Justice League effectively, or at least that is what Geoff Johns, the writer, thinks so.

The team may seem like a motley crew, however that could be the strength of this book, as none of these characters have made a big splash in the New52 yet. Johns has gotten some flack for the lack of quality writing in the Justice League, but JLA may be a redeeming series for the writer. When dealing with characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, there are a lot of expectations on the quality of the book. People get mad if you mess too heavily with the classic characters, but they also get upset when you stick them in static situations like fighting Darkseid for no discernable reason (like the first arc of Justice League). Perhaps Johns has realized this and believes his talents would be best suited towards reworking characters that don't have much a of a place currently in the New52. Certainly all of the characters in this series could use a boost in plot, or a starting point for the new universe, perhaps this series can serve those purposes.

The first issue is a pretty cut and dry starting point for a new comic. Have bad guys vaguely introduce their nefarious intentions, cut to people talking about members of the new team, allowing for full introduction of the characters, and end with someone almost dead to hook readers for next issue. JLA #1 follows a pretty simplistic pattern, but I must give Johns some props for having decent dialogue, not great, but decent. In addition to the writing, I did enjoy David Finch's illustration, even if it is a little nondescript.

Whatever the reasoning for this team, it is a decent title if you were looking to get into some b-list DC characters in a straight forward comic. I give JLA #1 a 7/10.

-Peter

On a side note, this book was published with variant covers for each state, and Diamond Distribution apparently messed orders for a bunch of stores. The shop I go to did not receive any Arkansas covers they ordered and I have heard rumors that several shops only got Idaho covers. Way to go Diamond!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dude, Dude, Psychonauts!

I'm about to start replaying the wonderfully weird and under appreciated game Psychonauts. It came out originally in 2005 for Xbox/PS2, and it is filled with Tim Schafer wonderfulness.

I was bored last night and decided to search for a cheapy game to get off the Playstation Network. I came across Psychonauts for 4.99, and I couldn't pass up on that price. If you have never played Psychonauts, or another game by Tim Schafer, you should, because they're great and hilarious.

Regularly considered one of the most unappreciated games ever, Psychonauts takes place at the training summer camp of psychic-warriors. You learn new skills as you dig into a sinister plot surrounding the camp.

-Peter


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Holographic Charizard

If you weren't aware, I have begun and co-host a weekly internet radio show called Holographic Charizard. I think it is pretty nifty. Check it out here. Holocharizard.com.

-Peter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Petition Seeks to Reach DC Comics After Hiring of Orson Scott Card



Rumblings of a boycott occurred after DC announced a new "digital first" series entitled "Adventures of Superman". The series is set to launch in the digital comics format in April and take after the "Legends of the Dark Knight" series in which different writers and artists take a swing at crafting stand alone stories. Orson Scott Card, famous for the "Ender's Game" series, is set to write the first two stories.

Card is a member of the Mormon church and has previously stated his opposition to homosexuality. In his 2004 essay entitled "Homosexual Marriage and Civilization", Card states that allowing gay marriage would eventually lead to the downfall of civilization. While these are his personal opinions and would not necessarily be reflected in his work, DC has been making significant strides in including LGBTQ characters in their new52 series such as Bunker and the Earth2 Green Lantern, and hiring a writer who has become notorious for his view of LGBTQ people seems counterproductive. Understandably, many comic fans found DC's hiring of an active opponent to Gay Marriage a little dissatisfying, and have since launched a campaign to have Card removed. The petition is located on AllOut.org. As of this post, the petition stands at just under 6,000 of the 10,000 goal.

Update:
Here is a funny strip by the gutters concerning Card's potential story:
          http://www.the-gutters.com/comic/378-ben-bates


-Peter

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Do The Looming DC Cancelations Say?

It was announced recently that DC Comics will be canceling six more titles in May. The titles are Deathstroke, The Fury of Firestorm, The Ravagers, Savage Hawkman, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. While it is too bad that comics are being cancelled due to low readership, it may be sending a message to DC and other corporate comic publishers. My guess at what that message is this, there are too many books being published by the main companies. This is directed mainly at DC and Marvel, so Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, and Boom are off the hook for this post. Marvel and DC are both publishing incredible numbers of books every month, and it seems to be coming to a head, at least for DC. 

When a company that is building a full fantasy universe tries to put it in 40+ volumes a month, there is sure to be some lack of popularity with certain books. Most people probably wont drop the $2.99 or $3.99 to read some character they have never heard of. If they do, they had better be engrossed right away because who would make a monthly commitment to something they weren't that interested in? Enter DC comics who a year and a half ago launched 52 new titles in the same month. Now, there are plenty of mainstream comics out there like any of the four Batman books, or the two Superman titles, but DC was clearly trying to get people interested in a variety of books, hence breaking them down into categories. The problem is that not everyone will be interested in those characters even after a reboot, and there are only so many good comic creators to go around. DC put the good ones to use, but many books were left with mediocre creators thus disappointing the established fan base while failing to hook new readers. It was not long before, and not very surprising, that DC began canceling series almost immediately. However, instead of licking their wounds and dedicating their time to their still in print books, they created new series to fill the void. They did this a couple of times which leads us up to now where six books are being cancelled.

Now, perhaps DC had solid intentions of creating a universe that would revitalize their comic sales and readership. But, it is hard to understand their logic. Instead of building gradually by starting with a few big sellers leading to branching series, DC thought they could skip the development and go straight to big profit not realizing that comics with little known characters and bad stories do not sell well, I don't have the marketing info, but neither do they apparently. We shall see where DC goes after this round of cancelations. I hope they consolidate drastically and focus on building a name of quality in their monthly books.

On a side note, I feel the need to pick on Marvel a little. Marvel is currently going through a reboot light phase with "Marvel Now". Books seem to be a bit better than those of DC, but that is completely subjective. Marvel certainly seems to be pushing the $3.99 price tag a lot, and I can't help but notice a strong favoring of the characters making big bucks for Marvel/Disney at the box office (see Avengers Vs. X-Men). All that aside Marvel seems to be in a better spot than DC, but I wouldn't mind seeing the number of new titles slowing down.

-Peter

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Can Pokemon be Serious?

Pokemon was released in America 15 years ago, I'll give you a moment to think about that.

Anyone who played the original Pokemon games, had cards from base set, or watched the first season as it came out is in the age range of 19 and 27, give or take those who were teenagers for the release. Many people, myself included, have played the games continuously and are rather loyal to Pokemon as a franchise. While many are content with the continuation of the Pokemon status quo, kid friendly games that are still quite fun if you are into crazy monster RPG stuff. However, I have sensed some rumblings around the internet urging for a more adult story line set in the Pokemon universe. Most recently, this has taken form in webcomics. Comics like Pokemon: Hard Mode take a different view from the standard narrative while still being pretty light. However a new development has occurred in the form of a Pokemon-noir comic that has been making the rounds on different internet sources. The comic is called Pokemon Center and is written and drawn by Ray Bruwelheide. In case you haven't seen it yet, check it out under here:






So, this comic is two things; Phenomenal and a completely different take on the Pokemon universe. What was the response? People love it! There is a clear demand for this type of work that is parody, but it is serious parody. You can liken it back to comics where we learn to love the characters and world through the childish side and then we crave to see those characters in a serious light. This comic does that in a wonderful way. Why can't people die in the pokemon universe? what are the actual consequences of large organized crime? Why haven't we utilized Todd Snap? These are all things that can be explored in a more serious story set in a world many are familiar with and fond of. Like everyone else, I hope this series continues and inspires others to pursue a similar goal.

Check out Ray Bruwelheide website to see his other work, http://ray-b.net/.

-Peter

Green Arrow #17: Review

For the past 17 months there has been a pall hanging over my comic book experience, and that pall was the New52 Green Arrow series. From the dull starting run of JT Krull, to the uninteresting plot of Keith Giffen, and the continual "I don't know what is going on here" of Ann Nocenti, the emerald archer's first foray into a new universe was a bumpy one. However,  someone at DC got their wits about them and chose Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Animal Man) as the next writer for Seattle's favorite bowman starting at issue #17. Lemire is a consistently good, in my opinion very good, writer with plenty of experience writing DC monthlies and his own graphic novels.

GA #17 is an important issue. Since Lemire has the pressure of turning a series around, he has to establish a good arc, while doing damage control on the past 16 issues, sadly they can't just start a renumbering. He does this well by taking out some of the side characters, introducing a mysterious villain of sorts, and just using effective exposition, where the reader knows what is going on. The art, done by Andrea Sorrentino (I, Vampire), had dynamic point of view and certainly reflected Lemire's storytelling, not to mention the cover which is currently my twitter cover photo. By the end of the issue, my desire for good GA was not fully sated, but I know that better things are on their way. If you were looking for a solid DC title to jump on, look no further than Green Arrow #17.

I give Green Arrow #17 an 8 out of 10.

-Peter