INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
I keep thinking I’m done talking about the DC relaunch, and then some new piece comes up.
This time it was from my retailer. A couple of weeks ago, when picking up my comics from the shop, there was a form waiting for me.
The short version is, the shop tells me that none of my current DC pulls are going to roll over with the new number ones, even if it’s got the same title– like, say, Batman and Robin. So I have to re-list anything I want to keep getting (if it still actually exists. Some, like Superman/Batman, are ending.)
The form they gave me to do this, I must admit, is kind of cool. It’s a booklet with all the DC preview info helpfully listed in alphabetical order, along with a thumbnail pic of the cover art.
After each listing there’s a box to check off indicating whether you want to order just the one issue, or go ahead and commit to getting the book on an ongoing basis. When you’re doing a checklist previewing 52 books all at once, this is about the most efficient way to do it. The booklet’s done by my actual retailer, Zanadu Comics downtown, it’s not from DC. (Though DC could do a lot worse than to put out some sort of booklet like this.)
Looking through it, though, I’m feeling a fair amount of ‘meh.’
Here’s my problem in a nutshell; I’ve turned into a trade-waiting guy. Standard 32-page booklet comics have almost completely disappeared from my comics reading. I look at the stacked boxes here in the office and I think that I need to start seriously getting RID of these, not ADDING to them.
Moreover, I’ve become a retailer’s nightmare: I’m a used-trade-waiting guy. Over the last few months my habit has been to do online searches on graphic novels (usually Amazon, but not always) and pick up used trade paperback or hardcover collections of comics for three to five dollars each, plus shipping.
On top of all that, those books have largely been Marvel books. Despite my loathing for Civil War in general and the last half of the Straczynski-written run on Spider-Man in particular that caused me to drop the book, I was lured back and then completely won over by what Dan Slott and friends have been doing on the rebooted Spidey. Now I’ve got everything from Brand New Day on up in hardcover. Likewise Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man and Brubaker’s Captain America.
Really, not a lot has changed since January’s column about this… except I picked up the Secret Invasion! hardcover on a whim and then discovered a whole bunch of the Bendis and other New Avengers books marked down to nothing.
Just kinda got to picking off the hardcovers on Amazon for way cheap, one by one, and without even really realizing it, I’m caught up all the way on the various Avengers titles through Siege. So now suddenly I’m an Avengers guy again. I even enjoyed the Dan Slott “I will make Hank Pym cool or die trying” version of Mighty Avengers.
So really, despite the current pull list being very DC-heavy, it’s the deep-discounted Marvel collections arriving in the mail that I’ve been enjoying the most. (Although last week I picked up several of the earlier Peter Tomasi Green Lantern Corps collections on a whim because they were three dollars each, but that was largely a fit of re-awakened Green Lantern fanboyism left over from my godson and I having such a great time at the Ryan Reynolds movie.)
Honestly, though, it’s come to this. Here’s what I said in the January column where I traditionally look at my pull list selections…
Last January when I did the annual look at the pull list, I was thinking that 2010 would be the year I made the switch to trades-only. And it almost was. I strongly suspect that 2011 absolutely will be… because even if I don’t make the switch, well, the industry itself will probably do it for me.
That was in January. Now it’s July, and, well, here we are.
And I find myself asking, Hell, do I even want a pull list any more? Because it’s not really a question of “What do I want to read?” so much as, “What do I want to read so bad that I’m willing to shell out for more expen$ive and difficult-to-store individual issues, or for titles I like that I think won’t ever get collected?”
There’s the digital option, but I just can’t see paying what DC wants to charge for that, and my computer’s kind of a pain to read digital comics on anyway. Even with my new reading glasses, the monitor’s still a little too small for me to read them easily and comfortably. (Because I’m old.) Besides, I like having my comics in my hand, I much prefer reading a tangible object. (Because I’m old.)
So it comes down to trades vs. monthlies. Trades win with me in a walk. Just in terms of financial sense, ease of reading and storage, and so on and so on. We all know the arguments in favor of buying comics in collected form, I’ve made it here many times, and there’s no need to rehash them.
…I really like visiting the shop on Wednesday. It’s a pleasant break in the middle of my work week.
And it’s a good shop, too. I’ve been buying comics from Zanadu since I moved here in 1984, and had the reserve box for quite a few years now. The staff often set aside promotional posters and giveaways for my cartooning students, and they display the class ‘zines at the store as well. Plus they give me a discount. I feel like I should support them.
But I’m too cheap to pay full price for most trade collections (except Jonah Hex, because I want to be sure DC knows people are buying those.)
So…. I guess I’m going to hang on to the pull list.
Now I have to figure out what new DC monthly books to put on it.
Time to look at the booklet. A to Z. What’ve we got?
Action? No. If there’s anything that’s a certainty to show up in a trade, it’s Grant Morrison. Pretty good bet Jonah Hex will too, so I think I’ll chance skipping All-Star Western. Batgirl? Not with Barbara Gordon. I like the current Stephanie Brown version, I’m annoyed it’s going away, and I like Barbara Gordon as Oracle….
…And so on. I’ll spare you the entire decision-making process but just talk about the seven DC books that actually made the cut.
First one on the list: Batman with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
For the record: I’m really irritated at losing Dick Grayson as Batman. Truthfully I vastly preferred Grant Morrison’s Dick-and-Damian version of Batman and Robin to his Batman Inc., which (sorry, Whorrisons) just isn’t doing it for me. I feel cheated that I didn’t get more of the Morrison Batman and Robin before we went off in yet another BOLD NEW DIRECTION! (In fact, while we’re on the subject, I’m fed up in general with the industry-wide case of attention-deficit-disorder where apparently two years is the cap for any Bold New Direction. But that’s a column in itself.) I would have been much happier if the “Batman Reborn,” Dick Grayson Bat-titles had lasted a lot longer.
That said, I’m a Bat guy, always have been, and I am very much enjoying Snyder’s current work on Detective. I see a lot of crabbing about how it’s Capullo and not Jock on the relaunch version, but I don’t care about all that, I’m a story guy. The art would have to be really super hideous to drive me off a book. I like Snyder’s take not just on Batman, but also on the supporting cast and Gotham City as well.
Next one to make the cut: Aquaman from Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. I’m not nearly as down on Geoff Johns’ work as many of my colleagues are here on the blog, and I think when he’s just doing regular superhero adventure — his first run on JSA, the new Flash with Francis Manapul, stuff like that — it’s usually pretty good. It’s when he gets all snarled up with Big Events that the wheels come off the wagon.
Plus… it’s Aquaman. I admit it, this is a fanboy nostalgia thing, I’ll always have a soft spot for the character. The old Filmation Aquaman cartoons helped to bring me to newsstand comics as much as the Adam West Batman did, back in 1967.
So I always give Aquaman a chance, I’m a big Aquaman fan. I want Aquaman to have a regular book. It’s a wallet vote.
It was a real back-and-forth for me on this for quite a while, but I finally decided to go ahead and get the new Batman and Robin, as well. Again, this is one where I like the older version a lot better than the one it’s replacing. Easygoing cheerful Batman and young grim Robin is a fun reversal of tradition, it makes for entertaining reading even when it’s not Grant Morrison writing it. It was an engine built to last, we could have gotten years of stories out of that. Older grim Batman and young grim-in-a-slightly-different-way Robin isn’t nearly as much fun of an idea, and we saw that back in the 1970s anyway when Marv Wolfman decided that Bruce and Dick should fight all the time.
But I like Peter Tomasi’s writing. I liked what he was doing on the current version of Batman and Robin after Grant Morrison left. This new relaunched version probably is going to get collected, but it might not, and I decided to give it a chance.
Long slog from the Bs to the Ms. Nothing’s really doing it for me– either I’m not interested or it doesn’t pass the “wait for a trade” test. Until we get to Mister Terrific by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson.
This is one that I suspect won’t get collected and probably won’t last more than a year based on past observations of the industry, but many of those one-year wonders are among my favorite comics of all time. (I.e., Chase, DC’s Phantom, Hercules Unbound.) So I’m willing to give it a shot. Mostly because I really liked Michael Holt’s character in general and especially in JSA. (Aside: you know, volume one of JSA was a perfectly serviceable superhero book, it was like the old Thomas-Buscema Avengers.The new version, along with All-Stars, just hasn’t got that same old-school flair.) Anyway, that residual JSA goodwill gets this one a shot with me, along with the fact that I’ve been a fan of Roger Robinson’s art since Gotham Knights. And I like the idea of Mr. Terrific having his own title. Wallet vote. The blurb makes me mildly suspicious that he’s getting some kind of hipster makeover but I hope it’s not true.
And the very next one listed makes it as well, Nightwing from Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows. This is, again, a wallet vote — it might get collected in trade and it might not, and I’d like DC to know that I want to read about Dick Grayson’s adventures on a regular basis, so I’m in. I am not familiar with Higgins or Barrows but the setup with Haley’s Circus seems like a nice idea, though I can also see some story problems with it long-term. What I really want to see is more of the approach Peter Tomasi was taking in the final issues of the first run of Nightwing, the grown-up Robin that still stops by the Batcave once in a while to do his laundry and goof on Alfred. I just love that idea, it humanizes all the Bat characters and it’s fun. Tomasi really nailed that vibe, it was a great version and I’m clinging to the hope that someone else will get hold of that idea and run with it.
This pick’s part fanboy nostalgia and part Maybe-they’ve-finally-figured-it-out, but after another bout of back-and-forth with myself I decided to go ahead and give The Savage Hawkman by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan a chance.
This is a wallet vote because I like Hawkman, and I would like his book to succeed. I especially like the idea of Hawkman as being more of a mystical kind of character, rather than the science-y Thanagarian policeman/soldier/whatever. My idea of a good Hawkman is a Conan with wings in the world of Indiana Jones. This cover and blurb seems like a version of that idea. When Geoff Johns and Rags Morales were doing it a few years back they did some nice stuff going in that direction, and then somehow it kind of sputtered out. Here’s hoping they get it back.
Although I really, really hate those spiked things on the glove or gauntlet or whatever. I don’t need my Savage Hawkman quite THAT savage. The artist they should have gotten for this is Jason Metcalf.
We’ve been seeing Jason at Pacific Northwest shows for years, he’s an amazing talent, and I’m telling you, he’s born to do this kind of exotic-adventure, barbarian-gladiator strip. If you’re reviving John Carter of Mars or Claw the Unconquered or any kind of a strip with “Savage” in the title, Jason’s the guy you want drawing it.
…Anyway. moving on. There’s one more from the DC relaunch that I decided to take a chance on — Voodoo by Ron Marz and Sami Basri.
This one I picked because… well, because I always liked Ron Marz on Green Lantern, he does good solid work, and this seems like an interesting idea. Never read anything about the character before, no idea if this is brand-new or some sort of revamp, but I always enjoy ‘street-level civilian viewpoint’ superhero comics, whether it’s Gotham Central or Marvels or Alias or The Pulse. And this one stars a woman who’s not falling out of her shirt or wearing a painted-on impossible leotard. (It’s not quite enough to cancel out the horrible new costumes for Harley Quinn and Starfire, but it does give me hope that not ALL the staff at DC hate real grown-up women.) Voodoo probably is another one that won’t last a year, but I am rooting for it. The premise sounds kind of like Chase. But with voodoo. Anyway, I figured I’d give it a shot just because I like the idea of more quirky titles set in the DCU. Another wallet vote.
So there you have it. It actually ended up being more titles overall than I thought it would be, considering. I suspect several of these aren’t going to last, though I hope I’m wrong. I guess in September we’ll find out.
See you next week.
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