Fallen Angel (Peter David) – Edgy & mysterious. Hard to categorize. I’m not sure there are any “good guys” in town, including the main character. Things are still vague, but it’s got me curious. I’m definitely on board to see how this shakes down.

Teen Titans (Geoff Johns) – I’ve been burned on the Titans too many times. I tend to give the team more slack than I would others, since the Wolfman/Perez series is what really got me into comics. I hung on through “Titans Hunt” and “The Darkening,” grumbled through the Arsenal-led team, and was ready to drop it by the time it was cancelled in 1996. I skipped the Dan Jurgens series, since it was just new characters with the same name. The 1999 revival had me really excited, but that excetement faded quickly. Each time I was ready to give up, they brought in a new creative team, and each time, it didn’t help.

So then I heard the series was being cancelled and relaunched as the Teen Titans. I thought, “Fine, whatever, so they’ve merged it with Young Justice, who cares. I’ve got my back issues.” Then I read that Geoff Johns, the current Flash writer, was doing it. And I thought, “Dammit, I’m going to have to try this.”

Well, so far so good. The YJ characters clearly have some issues to work out, so I expect it’ll take several issues to get a feel for the book, but I’m willing to stick around so far.

Outsiders (Judd Winick) – The other book to spin out from the old Titans. I wasn’t particularly interested in the lineup or the description, nor did the fact that the author also wrote Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day count as a ringing endorsement, so I did little more than skim the first few pages of issue #1. That turned out to be a mistake. Based on several recommendations, I picked up issue #2. Except for the excessive expository narration (which may only be there for the sake of new readers), it’s like reading a good action film – one that has a sense of humor, but doesn’t descend into the silliness of the later Lethal Weapon installments. Lex Luthor’s dialogue alone is worth the price of issue #2. After I tracked down the since-sold-out #1, I remarked to Katie, “I could buy this just for the banter.”

Supreme Power (J. Michael Straczynski) – I only know a bit about the original Squadron Supreme – namely, that they were an homage to the Justice League who first appeared in Avengers. (Not long afterward, the JLA encountered a very Avengers-like team.) With this new series, the Rising Stars comparisons will be inevitable, but even from the first issue it’s clear JMS is taking a different approach. The Specials all had a common background, both in the source of their powers and in their upbringing. Based on the two we’ve seen so far, the Squadron will at least have different backgrounds, although there are hints that at least some of their powers may be linked. Probably the biggest difference, at least in this first issue, is the focus on the people around the future heroes, rather than on the Specials themselves. Issue #1 in particular focuses heavily on the US government’s efforts to raise the future Hyperion (Superman) as all-American as possible… and the inevitable snags that develop.

Throw in the long-awaited returns of Planetary, Fray, Astro City and Empire, and it’s a good summer for “new” comics.

Counting down to 1602 and Sandman: Endless Nights

The title comes from a series of articles on The Quarter Bin. The subject is a pair of very literal casualties from the recent mini-series, Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day. I am speaking of Lilith and Donna Troy.

I was rereading the story yesterday, and I realized the two characters killed were those whose origins had been rewritten so many times that people didn’t know how to write them anymore. In fact, Donna has her own article at the Quarter Bin.

And both of them can be traced back to the post-Crisis decision to move Wonder Woman’s origin forward in time.

The immediate result of this was that Wonder Girl had appeared on the scene several years before Wonder Woman. So (1) she was no longer a teenaged sidekick, just a teenaged hero, and (2) she needed a new explanation for her powers. This was left an open question for a couple of years, then handled in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ excellent “Who Is Wonder Girl.”

The only problem with that story is that it contradicted Lilith’s origin. Lilith had been an orphan, who could see glimpses of the future, but knew nothing of her own past. Her search for her parents (or at least her mother) served as a series of backup stories in the original Teen Titans series, and was finally concluded when she learned (just months before the Crisis) that she was the daughter of Thia, the sun goddess of the Titans of Greek myth. Unfortunately, Donna’s new origin also involved the Titans of Myth, but Thia had never left — leaving Lilith an orphan again.

The real messing up I lay squarely at the feet of Dan Jurgens and John Byrne (although a healthy amount can be blamed on the editorial policy of killing off any concept whose series has been cancelled — like the Darkstars, whose ranks Donna joined after she lost her own powers). Continue reading

I’ve been to the San Diego Comic Con every year since 1990 (before they changed the name to Comic Con International), but this is the first year I’ve gone in costume.

Last weekend, Katie and I searched a bunch of vintage clothing and regular clothing stores looking for pieces she would need for a Sluggy Freelance Gwynn costume from “The Bug, the Witch and the Robot”. I already everything for a Riff costume except long hair, so we looked for hair extensions as well. We plan on putting up a “how-to” at some point, but I’ll just post the finished product here.

A ton of photos follow: Continue reading

Cover: Flash #165Over the past few weeks I’ve been going through the Silver Age Flash series, cataloging character appearances. I’m almost done – only 25 issues left – but it reminded me of something:

Why is it that super-hero weddings are almost always interrupted by super-villains – even when the hero’s identity is secret?

Is it just that readers expect a story with some sort of fight in it, and if it’s just a wedding they’ll be disappointed?

Consider these examples:

  • Flash II (Barry Allen) and Iris West: the wedding is interrupted when Professor Zoom disguises himself as the groom, and the Flash has to get rid of him and then make it to the wedding himself.
  • Flash II (Barry Allen) and Fiona Webb (after Iris’ death): Zoom returns, Flash spends the whole day chasing him around the globe, and eventually Fiona gives up and runs out of the chapel, just in time for Zoom to try to kill her. (Flash stops him with a last-second choke-hold which breaks his neck, leading to a manslaughter trial, the disappearance of Barry Allen, and finally the cancellation of the series.)
  • Flash III (Wally West) and Linda Park: at the moment the rings are exchanged, Abra Kadabra kidnaps Linda, sends everyone home, and casts a massive forget spell, erasing all memory and records of her back to the point she met Wally. Eventually she escapes, Kadabra is tricked into reversing the spell, and they hold a new wedding – 18 issues later.

And it’s not just the main characters who get this treatment: Continue reading

On our trip to Carmel last month we passed by Casa de Fruta, once a simple roadside fruit stand, now a huge complex of stores and restaurants, all with names like Casa de Coffee, Casa de Wine, even Casa de Motel. They even have a mini-railroad for kids, called, naturally, Casa de Choo-Choo.

Of course, we immediately thought of Choo-Choo Bear, the amorphous kitty from Something Positive

Casa de Choo-Choo (slightly modified)