Tag Archives: Geoff Johns

Another Ruined Character

I don’t want to make this the Captain Marvel Grumbles, but I can’t let Billy Batson’s first full issue in the New 52 pass by unmentioned.  JLA #0 is the first issue of the New 52 that I’ve purchased since this podcast. The reason being this amazing Gary Frank cover:

Justice League #0

Before I go any further, let me recap: Captain Marvel was a superhero created in the 40s who, for a time, was more popular than Superman.  Eventually, because of lawsuits and societal pressures, Fawcett Comics stopped publishing his books. The entire line was bought by DC who did nothing with the characters for decades. Marvel created their own Captain Marvel to secure the trademark, so when DC did start publishing the OG Cap the comic had to be called Shazam.  (…which is the magic word that Billy Batson says to transform into Captain Marvel.)

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to this reboot of the once beloved character.  My one word review is: awful.  It strips all of the fun and joy out of the character and pumps him full of 80s era angst and grit.  Sure, in the original he was an orphan.  But, he didn’t seem to give a hoot about it.  In his first appearance, he gets a job as a roving reporter on the radio by scamming/charming the station’s owner.  His main villain is Dr. Sivana, a mad scientist who’s pretty terrible at being a bad guy.

This new version of the hero is more of a dick than Dr. Sivana ever was. When the wizard Shazam brings him to his underground home he just bitches at him.  This is a guy who wants to give him super powers and all he can say is, “Listen, Chester, that stuff might work like candy on six-year-olds, but you come any closer and I’ll knock out the last of your teeth.”

That’s right. He said Chester.  As an insult.  Seriously.  And it actually gets worse from there.  His first act as a superhero is to trash a random guy’s car, knock a mugger through a car, and then take money from the woman he saved.  Now, I understand that people want more realism from their superheroes these days.  You can see the seams on all the DC character’s costumes now.  Green Lantern hits on Wonder Woman the first time he sees her. Batman spent an issue doing his taxes.  But, Captain Marvel is not that kind of character.

First off, other (better) writers have done gritty Captain Marvel-style stories.  Alan Moore did it with his run on Britain’s Marvelman.  More recently, Mark Millar did it in his mini-series Superior.  The thing that would actually make Captain Marvel interesting again is a return to his roots.  There are very few superhero comics these days that have the unbridled silliness that set the Captain apart in the first place.

Let me give you an example of the kind of storytelling they were doing back then.  This is a page from Whiz Comics #3.

An early page of Whiz Comics #3

In the span of three panels, a poorly disguised Dr. Sivana refuses to let Billy Batson boy reporter on to his rocket ship to Venus, and then launches the rocket with him and Billy on board with barely any explanation at all.  Then they land on Venus and get attacked by a Venusian dragon.  It’s like one of those dreams where you are in one place, and then for no reason at all you’re in a completely different one.  In the dream it makes sense, but when you wake up it’s baffling.

THAT is what Captain Marvel should be.  THAT is what made him so popular in the 40s.  When you get away from that core innocence and weirdness, he becomes as generic and boring as Justice League #0.

Graham Becksted is way too into Captain Marvel.  He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 70th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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March Broke More Like It. LOL!!1!

Welcome to an “It’s Been A Slow Week” edition of Graham’s Grumbles!  Comic books, people.  Unlike American politics, it just can’t be scandal after scandal all the time.  So, this week I’m going to focus in on some recent purchases.  The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of stores do March Break sales in honor of kids running wild with their parent’s money for a few days.  Here are some of the books I snagged on the cheaps.

Alias Vol. 1

This series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos and lasted 28 issues.  This trade paperback in particular collects the first 28 issues.  It’s been a long time since I read any of it, but it introduced Jessica Jones to the Marvel universe.  She’s a private detective with a bit of a mysterious past.  She’s friends with Ant-Man and Luke Cage, and makes use of her connections to solve mysteries in the Marvel U. Another thing that sets it apart is that it was one of the first Marvel Max books, meaning it could play around with some “R” rated material.  Like sex.  ENJOY!

Gotham Central Vol. 1

A lot of the stuff I end up buying in collected editions are DC titles.  I’m invested enough in Marvel that I get most of the major storylines in single issue format.  DC, though, I feel like I can wait on.  This is a series I’ve been meaning to get for awhile.  I’ve read some of the issues years ago, but never got around to getting it.  It was co-written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker who are now two of the biggest names in comics.  Rucka is also the writer of an excellent series of novels about bodyguard Atticus Kodiak which I highly recommend.  Anyhoo, the nitty gritty of it is about police officers trying to fight crime in Gotham City.  Obviously this is not the easiest task when common criminals are Joker and Mr. Freeze and you’re constantly being upstaged by a certain super rich vigilante.

Flash Rebirth

Another one of those DC storylines that I was willing to wait for a trade paperback collection before buying.  This series has the same principle creative team as the very cool Green Lantern Rebirth – Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver.  Both series revolve around the reincarnation of a beloved silver-age superhero.  In this case, it’s the second Flash, Barry Allen.  I don’t know too much about it, but Johns is a serviceable writer and Van Sciver is an AMAZING artist.  I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done.  It’s a date!

Unwritten vols. 4 and 5

This is a series I’ve been reading since the summer in trade format.  It’s really good and I can’t wait to see where it goes.  The creators are Mike Carey and Peter Gross with fantastic covers by Yuko Shimizu.  I’m not really sure how to describe it without spoiling things.  Suffice it to say, it’s about the life that fictional characters can take on outside of their creators.  It’s about when fiction and reality collide.  And it’s kind of about Harry Potter.  I’m totally blown away by it, and this is from a guy who’s never really liked much of Mike Carey’s work before this.  I never really got into his X-Men stuff, and despite loving Sandman I couldn’t really get into his Lucifer series.  Every trade so far has had some sort of cool twist, and it never goes where you think it will.  Highly, highly recommend it, and can’t wait to see where it goes.

So, there are just a few of the comics I got during the holy days of March Break.  What else do you think I should get?

Graham Becksted’s got some reading to do.  He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 58th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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