Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New New Titans Together

"New New Titans Together" from Teen Titans vol.3 #99 (DC, 2011) by J.T. Krul, José Luis, Greg Adams and J.P. Mayer
Though it lasted 100 issues, I consistently heard bad things about this book, so stayed well away, picking up only the last couple issues because finally, it was getting good reviews. I was out of comics for Geoff Johns' 45 first issues, but I never hear anyone name TT as one of his good works (as opposed to Hawkman or JSA). Sean McKeever's run was panned. Is this franchise now writer-proof, i.e. can no one write a good Titans comic. So it's very strange to me that anyone (myself included) could enjoy J.T. Krul's issues when the guy had infuriated fandom with his Arsenal story not long before. But feel free to sell me on some early arc I'm not aware of.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Copyright Infringement

"Copyright Infringement" from Teen Titans vol.2 #4 (DC, 1997) by Dan Jurgens and George Perez
After New Teen Titans' star a long waned, the book was cancelled and replaced by an entirely-new team, which is always dangerous. Like the Justice League franchise, the title evoked a collection of heroes who had left their mark elsewhere. New Teen Titans had managed an "All-New, All-Different X-Men" success with a strong mix of new characters, but Argent, Risk, et al. are nowhere near as iconic as Cyborg, Starfire and Raven, and lacked the support of well-established characters like Nightwing, Wonder Girl and Changeling. My particular interest in the book was two-fold. First, the Atom, though turned into a teenager by Zero Hour shenanigans, was a favorite character of mine, and the only established star, and Dan Jurgens as writer/artist couldn't help but do a solid job. But despite links to the Titans' past, like a reformed Mad Mod and various villains and guest-stars from the Titans world, the new characters just couldn't grab the public's attention. And I do mean COULDN'T. Soon, "The Titans" was in the wings.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Requiem for a Titan

"Requiem for a Titan" from Teen Titans vol.1 #14 (DC, 1968) by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy
I came into contact with the original Titans strip through Showcase Presents and fell in love with it. It was even a major part of Siskoid's Blog of Geekery my first year. All that Bob Haney craziness. That beautiful Nick Cardy art. Simply loved it. It is easily my favorite iteration of the Titans, and I like how the cartoon show owed at least as much to it as it did Marv Wolfman's New TT.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Baby of Donna Troy

"The Baby of Donna Troy" from Team Titans #3 (DC, 1992) by Marv Wolfman, Kevin Maguire and Will Blyberg
If New Teen Titans had become the hit it was in the early 80s TODAY, everything would be Titan this and Titan that. As it was, the book merely went to Baxter format while the other ongoing told a few less important stories before turning into a newsstand reprint, and Teen Titans Spotlight told solo tales of varying quality, but another spin-off wouldn't happen until the early 90s when the Titans' star was already well waning. And what a spin-off it was! By which I mean, how AWFUL. Cookie-cutter Titans from the future, introduced in Armageddon 2001 and with no real reason for being, erased from continuity a couple years later by Zero Hour. Not even Donna Troy jumping the shark like a sitcom could save this one.

Friday, December 27, 2013

More Wildstorm Than DC

"More Wildstorm Than DC" from Team 7 #7 (DC, 2013) by Justin Jordan, Tony Bedard and Pascal Alixe
The NAME of this short-lived New52 series (but aren't they all still "short-lived" at this point?) is that of a Wildstorm book (anything for Jim Lee to get paid extra), and a lot of its members are too - Fairchild, Grifter, Mr. Majestic, and John Lynch - with DC stars along for the ride - Black Canary, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor and Deathstroke. Set before the events of "5 years ago" (i.e. Justice League #1), it joins Stormwatch in telling us the new DCU, young and fresh as it is, used to be the Wildstorm Universe behind the scenes. And I'm not sure I like these plug-ins having a longer tradition and history than DC's brightest stars. In fact, I know I don't.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tarzan Eats Crocodiles for Breakfast

"Tarzan Eats Crocodiles for Breakfast" from Tarzan #211 (DC, 1972) by Joe Kubert and Burne Hogarth
Issue 211 makes it sound like Tarzan had a huge run at DC, but they picked up the numbering from Gold Key at #207. Still, they kept the license for some 6 years after that, also publishing Korak, Son of Tarzan, which later became Tarzan Family.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Beware Santa!

"Beware Santa!" from Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1 (DC, 1986) by Keith Giffen, Robert Lauren Fleming and Bob Oksner
Bonus Splash! Merry Christmas!

Tangent Green Lantern

"Tangent Green Lantern" from Tangent Comics: Green Lantern (Tangent, 1997) by James Robinson, J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray
I was a fan of the Tangent idea (the first series anyway) - making comics with names that were very familiar from (mostly) the Silver Age, but with all-new characters. The Green Lantern (above) as a horror anthology host. The Flash as a shiny teenage superhero in the style of Clueless. The Joker as a troublemaking female hero. The Metal Men as a team of mercenary soldiers. The Doom Patrol, heroes from a potential future in our time to try to stop doomsday from happening. The Atom as a powerful atomic hero. Nightwing as a shadowy team dealing with the supernatural. The Sea Devils, mer-people created by a nuclear exchange. The Secret Six, a covert superhero team, including some who have their own series. The second series chose to create a Superman, a Batman and a Wonder Woman, big names that I felt broke away from the premise.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Stuff!

"My Stuff!" from Talon #2 (DC, 2013) by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Juan José Ryp and Vincente Cifuentes
The Court of Owls event was a success, so of course it needed a spin-off. I wonder if Year Zero will too. To me, the "Talons" (good or bad) were never all that interesting. It seemed a great opportunity to introduce an Earth-1 Owl-Man to the DCU, and maybe put to rest the damn Crime Syndicate... So much for that. The Talon series itself just prolonged the already interminable Court of Owls, so I gave it a pass after some sampling.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Spaceman-at-Work Feature

"A Spaceman-at-Work Feature" from Tales of the Unexpected vol.1 #80 (DC, 1963) by Jack Miller and George Roussos
In response to the newly-minted Comics Code Authority, DC started this anthology ("Unexpected" wasn't one of the forbidden words) of science fiction short stories. It premiered such DC "stars" as Space Ranger, Automan and the Green Glob. Yeah, the Green Glob. I wonder where THAT Who's Who entry went to.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Wedding of Donna Troy - Mother of the Bride

"The Wedding of Donna Troy - Mother of the Bride" from Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (DC, 1985) by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Mike DeCarlo and Dick Giordano
Like Legion of Super-Heroes, Titans became "Tales of..." when the Baxter series popped up, featured some original stories for about a year, then turned into a reprint book. That Donna Troy's wedding was in Tales and not the pricier, more exclusive book is a small marvel. It remains one of superhero comics' most praised single issues.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oliver Queen's Descendent - Tour Guide

"Oliver Queen's Descendent - Tour Guide" from Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes vol.2 #320 (DC, 1985) by Paul Levitz, Mindy Newell, Dan Jurgens and Karl Kesel
Oh how the mighty legacy hath fallen. Yes, that's actually Oli 3 Queen, who appeared a couple times giving tours of Metropolis in the 30th century, his genetic heritage confirmed in that story where someone was trying to kill the descendents of the Justice League (after all, he could have just been Warlord's descendent). This, from Takes of the LSH, which was the retitling of the newsstand Legion book when the LSH went direct sales only. Tales went a year with new stories (which is more or less when I started getting into the Legion seriously), and then reprinted the Baxter series a year behind the original publishing date. It wasn't without its problems (they never reprinted the death of Superboy, for example), but I was glad to have Tales in my podunk town miles and miles from the nearest comic book shop.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Final Night Kaiju

"Final Night Kaiju" from Takion #6 (DC, 1996) by Paul Kupperberg, Aaron Lopresti, Jordi Ensign and Phyllis Novin
The ugly stepchild of the Fourth World, the Source probably should have kept to sending Highfather fiery emails instead of incarnating itself into some dim human dude. After 7 issues, it clearly was not working and got mercifully cancelled. Still, early Aaron Lopresti art.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mistress of Gemstones

"Mistress of Gemstones" from Sword of Sorcery vol.2 #8 (DC, 2013) by Christie Marx, Aaron Lopresti, Travis Moore and John Livesay
I was happy to see Amethyst back in the DCU - although it's very odd to have guest star in Justice League Dark - and in general, that the New52 would give shelf space to non-superhero comics (heck, I'll take non-Batman comics!). However, since none of those series except the Gotham-centric All Star Western have lasted any length of it, SoS (ha!), like the war comics, feel like exercises in copyright renewal. Amethyst was backed-up in the series by new versions of Beowulf and Stalker, neither of which grabbed my attention. If DC had had real faith in this series, they could have drawn upon much bigger names like Warlord, Arion and Arak.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Young Fafhrd vs. the Midgard Serpent

"Young Fafhrd vs. the Midgard Serpent" from Sword of Sorcery vol.1 #4 (DC, 1973) by Denny O'Neil and Walt Simonson
When the New52 came out with a Sword of Sorcery, I thought the name was really peculiar (why not Sword AND Sorcery, for example), but it's an old DC title! For five whole issues, comics greats-in-becoming like Denny O'Neil, Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin lent their pens to new adventures for Fritz Leiber's popular fantasy anti-heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. No Young Mouser tales as far as I know though.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Or You Could Just Come as Betty and Veronica

"Or You Could Just Come as Betty and Veronica" from Swing with Scooter #24 (DC, 1970) by Henry Scarpelli (writer unknown)
And here I thought Binky was DC's Archie rip-off...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gray Loves Green

"Gray Loves Green" from Swamp Thing vol.5 #4 (DC, 2012) by Scott Snyder, Marco Rudy and Michael Lacombe
So DC took Swamp Thing out of Vertigo, returned Alec Holland/Classic Swamp Thing to the DCU in Brightest Day, then brought them back AGAIN in a pointless mini-series, only to bring them back YET AGAIN as the DCU rebooted into the New52. Frustrating. The good news is that despite some over-long story arcs under Scott Snyder, the book has been remarkably good. Snyder's run tested my patience while the Thing fought the Rot for two years, but the art by Yannick Paquette and others (like Rudy, above) was splashy and beautiful. Charles Shoule has lately brought shorter arcs (that fit into the larger story) and a lot of black comedy to the book, and I'm enjoying the character more than I have since the 90s.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Swamp Thing Mountain

"Swamp Thing Mountain" from Swamp Thing vol.4 #1 (Vertigo, 2004) by Andy Diggle and Enrique Breccia
Swamp Thing's fourth volume featured story arcs by Andy Diggle, Will Pfeifer and Joshua Dysart, and brought the elemental back to his roots (while Tefé was rendered powerless). Over its last year, the series actually dealt with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Given that I discovered all these writers later, I'm thinking of checking these storylines out at some point in the future.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Green Architecture

"Green Architecture" from Swamp Thing vol.3 #2 (Vertigo, 2000) by Brian K. Vaughan, Roger Petersen and Joe Rubinstein
Vaughan's short-lived Swamp Thing series was really more about Tefé, magically aged-up and an avatar of both the Green and the Flesh. I don't know very much about it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Parliament of Worlds

"The Parliament of Worlds" from Swamp Thing vol.2 #171 (Vertigo, 1996) by Mark Millar, Phil Hester and Kim DeMulder
From issue 31, Saga of the Swamp Thing lost the three first words of the title, and remained, simply, Swamp Thing until its cancellation at #171. So where in that very long run would I go for a splash page? After the title change, Alan Moore continued his seminal run for almost three more years. Rick Veitch then did a couple years, including if I remember correctly, the Green's battle with the Gray. That storyline was reprised in the New52 as Swampy's fight with the Rot, and funnily enough, the run ended in a very New52 way, with the writer quitting because of editorial interference (DC refused to publish an issue that featured Jesus as a character despite approving the script ahead of time). Then, a period when people weren't really reading Swamp Thing anymore, followed by horror novelist Nancy A. Collins who went to a mix of horror tropes and family drama (by then, Alec and Abby had conceived a daughter, Tefé). Though I dutifully read this run, it was mostly because I was reading anything Vertigo, and the run was never that interesting to me. So it had to be the final run, written by Mark Millar and possibly ghost-written/plotted by Grant Morrison, with art by Phil Hester that proves to be a surprising favorite. A lot of weirdness, of course, but also an epic final arc in which Swamp Thing defeats the champions of various "Parliaments" and takes on their duties until he becomes the Earth's sole elemental and gets invited to the Parliament of Worlds. A great idea, and a great way to the series, it inspired one of my "Bubble World" articles, so here's that splash again.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Un-Men at the Foot of Arcane Castle

"Un-Men at the Foot of Arcane Castle" from Swamp Thing vol.1 #2 (DC, 1972) by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson
We tend to talk about Swamp Thing as if it started and ended with Alan Moore, but I'm not gonna feature any Moore at all over the next 5 splashes (for Moore, still check out Saga of the Swamp Thing). Truth be told, most of the horror elements that are still around today were introduced in the original 70s series - the creepy villains, the body horror, the lush gloomy vegetation... That all premiered more than a decade earlier.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Krypton

"New Krypton" from Superman: World of New Krypton #2 (DC, 2009) by James Robinson, Greg Rucka and Pete Woods
While we can (rightly) criticize Superman's absence from Earth for a year while other characters took over his books (Mon-El, Nightwing & Flamebird, etc.), I DID like the New Krypton storyline. Kal-El as a member of the Kryptonian military/security forces, serving under Zod no less, was a great hook, and besides, those other heroes on Earth got some very engaging stories they would not otherwise have been allowed to have (I doubt they could have carried their own books for a year). I also dig how all the Kryptonian styles we've seen over the years are represented in New K's caste structure. It's what happened with Superman afterwards that creates bitterness for the year of WNK, because Superman ONCE AGAIN left Metropolis to walk across the United States. Not what was required after such a long story arc away.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wonder Woman Vs. Doomsday

"Wonder Woman Vs. Doomsday" from Superman/Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 2013) by Charles Soule, Tony Daniel and Matt Banning
Is this a scene from the upcoming DC film? I'm not a fan of the Superman-Wonder Woman relationship, but I still really wanted to like this series because I AM a fan of Soule's work. The action beats work, and Soule is the first writer to use the characters from Azzarello's Wonder Woman series (to date, practically a world isolated from the rest of the New52), but the relationship stuff just doesn't work. Pretty art, but way too splash-happy (despite this blog's focus, I'd rather comics not be one splash after another). I won't be getting the third issue.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Secret Satellite Folds

"Secret Satellite Folds" from Superman Unchained #1 (DC, 2013) by Scott Synder, Jim Lee and Scott Williams
I think I said my piece on this series when I reviewed its first issue on the Blog of Geekery. You're welcome to check it out.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


"Sunbathing" from Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #13 (DC, 1999) by Louise Simonson, Paul Ryan and Dennis Janke
From 1995 on, Superman became a true weekly with the addition of this quarterly book to fill the gaps left by 5-Wednesday months. It kind of wanted to show stand-alone stories, many of them focusing on Lex Luthor, but continuity did intrude, since the books were basically a serial with four writers, a couple of which contributed to the more infrequent title (like Stern and Simonson).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Superman's Funeral Procession

"Superman's Funeral Procession" from Superman: The Man of Steel #20 (DC, 1993) by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke
Created when Superman finally went weekly, it still had its own unique identity thanks to the gooey art of Jon Bogdanove and the Marvelized soapiness Louise Simonson used to bring to X-Factor and Power Pack. It kept its flavor, I think, more consistently than the other books, and was Steel's first home as well. A great later-DC creation. Of course, Superman had to die before that happened, ergo his funeral.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Transilvane, a Real World with Real People

"Transilvane, a Real World with Real People" from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #143 (DC, 1971) by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
Jimmy Olsen is an important series to me. It's how I track when the Silver Age ended and the Bronze Age started. Corroborating evidence.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Slash Option: Lois Lane/Comet the Super-Horse

"Slash Option: Lois Lane/Comet the Super-Horse" from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #92 (DC, 1969) by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and Mike Esposito
Oh Lois...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Superman Is Saving... Something

"Superman Is Saving... Something" from Superman Family Adventures #6 (DC, 2012) by Art Baltazar and Franco
Yeah, more a pin-up or activity, but Superman Family Adventures didn't do splash pages and I really, really wanted to include the series in this survey. When it started, I wasn't sure it was up to replacing the much beloved Tiny Titans, but within a few issues, I think it was actually the superior book. More story-driven than TT, SFA became wilder and wilder as the run went on, and introduced character dynamics that seemed completely original and fun, like Lois knowing full well who Superman was but playing along, and Jor-El and Lara getting resurrected! A book I miss!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love and the Single Dog

"Love and the Single Dog" from Superman Family #183 (DC, 1977) by Bob Toomey, J. Calnan and Tex Blaisdell
Jimmy Olsen's book was turned into a giant-sized anthology, at first heavy on the reprints, but eventually offering all-new material featuring Supergirl, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. But those weren't the interesting strips. No, the coolest material was such shorter-lived strips as those enjoyed by Krypto (above), Flamebird & Nightwing in Kandor, and Mr. and Mrs. (Golden Age) Superman.

Monday, December 2, 2013

They Meet

"They Meet" from Superman Confidential #2 (DC, 2007) by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale
Superman's answer to Confidential/Classified books enjoyed by other franchises like Batman and the Justice League, it featured discreet arcs by rotating creative teams about Superman's early days, in continuity, but not in sequence, so to speak. Unlike other franchises' more successful attempts, it only managed 14 issues. And yet, people like Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale, Gray & Palmiotti, DnA and Phil Hester all contributed. Oh well.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


"Supermen/Batmen" from Superman/Batman #25 (DC, 2006) by Jeff Loeb, Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines
I got in late on this series thanks to some cool arcs written by the likes of Chris Roberson and Josh Fialkov. The stuff by Loeb was mocked so much on the Internet, I just couldn't get myself to pick it up early on, though I do admit his run had a way with crazy kitchen sink fanwankery that could make it a classic the same way Bob Haney's Brave and the Bold or Weisinger's Silver Age Superman are.