Friday Fights #23: Vibe vs. Dazzler

vibe-vs-dazzlerIt’s said that there is no such thing as a bad character in comic books; just extremely ill conceived or poorly written ones. This week we feature two combatants who stumbled out of the gate to become cult favorites: Vibe and the Dazzler.

DATED ORIGINS: Both of these characters are extremely dated in their origins. Vibe’s story comes across like the downfall of a member of Manudo; he’s a former break dancer turned gang member turned super hero. Dazzler is a former disco singer whose career is derailed once the public finds out she is a mutant and becomes an adventurer. ADVANTAGE: Neither.

THEY CAN TURN SOUND INTO THINGS: Vibe and Dazzler almost have the same super powers. They can turn sound into seismic and light energy respectively. Dazzler seems to be able to take her powers much further though, being able to successfully take on higher level cosmic villains like Dr. Doom, Terrax and even Galactus. ADVANTAGE: Dazzler.

KING OF THE STREETS: Vibe doesn’t really have much in the line of combat skills. In addition to her music career, Dazzler is an accomplished athlete. She’s also received extensive combat training during her time as an X-Men. I’m sure Vibe’s partners in the Detroit era of the Justice League (one of the lamest groups ever) really couldn’t offer something comparable. ADVANTAGE: Dazzler.

WINNER: Dazzler walks away with this one over poor Vibe. She is a much more established character, having been expanded so much over the years to be more than just a disco joke. Vibe has a chance to evolve and become a better character. Hopefully the new series written by Andrew Kreisberg can breathe some new life into the character.

 

Justice League: Volume 1: Origin

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim Lee

Remember when Jim Lee took was at the helm of Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” era? The first six issues of Justice League felt just like that, except this time Geoff Johns is writing and plotting alongside.

Justice League: Volume 1 tells the story of how the Justice League assembled joined together for the very first time. It’s five years in the past with the heroes still fairly new at their super hero career. Unfortunately, they wind up fighting. Pretty much the first two issues are some sort of fight between Green Lantern, Superman and Batman, as they fight what turns out to be the Parademons from Apokolips.

It’s up to those three–plus Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (who is super pals with Green Lantern since its the Barry Allen version) and the newly debuting Cyborg to team up to stop Darkseid from destroying the planet. This is a lot more serious than the original Justice League of America, who formed fighting what was essentially an enormous alien starfish.

The story is really formulaic; it ends with them saving the planet and everyone vowing to be there to protect the planet. Unfortunately for them, the public doesn’t really trust the super powered beings running around (much like in the Marvel Universe) and there is going to be a secret government agency following them.

Although the plot was very formulaic, it accomplished everything it needed to. The story reminded me a lot of Independence Day. Jim Lee’s art looks great as always. It was decent. If you are looking for something revolutionary and groundbreaking, this book isn’t for you. But if your looking for regular super hero adventures, this does the trick.

Free Comic Book Day 2012: DC The New 52

If the purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to attract the attention of non-reading super hero and comic book fans, did DC: The New 52 succeed?

Well…

I would safely say that this was more of a “preaching to the choir” type of promotional item. It really didn’t do anything to gain new readers. If the beauty of the New 52 relaunch was to attract new readers by making things clearer, this freebie furthers what’s going been on in DC the last year.

It starts out with some council of cosmic elders “punishing”  three of their own to wander the Earth. One of them is the hooded woman named Pandora who has been popping up since the beginning of the New 52. The other is a newly revamped Phantom Stranger. But the third is the new Question. Unfortunately he isn’t investigative reporter Vic Sage (or disgraced detective Renee Montoya) taking matters into his own hands. He’s now a dissident faced to wander the world faceless. Eep.

Pandora winds up infiltrating Steve Trevor’s ARGUS facility (in SAT analogy form, Trevor is to ARGUS as Nick Fury is to SHIELD) to steal the contents of Pandora’s box. Not only that, but they see a transmission of the Justice League of Earth 2. The story ends with the Justice League inexplicably fighting a group of other super heroes, including a new Green Lantern, Vibe, Green Arrow and what appears to be Black Adam. Now I’m confused.

What Geoff Johns wrote and the art team of Jim lee, Gene Ha, Ivan Reis and company drew wasn’t bad, there was just way too much stuff going on. Any one of these plotlines would have done, but don’t shove the introduction to Pandora’s back story and new characters into the first contact with another universe and a new group all at once. It was overkill.

The fun stuff was the two page previews for the next wave of New 52 titles. So what do I think about these?

  • The War That Time Forgot looks amazing, solely for the Ariel Olivetti art.
  • Batman Incorporated seems to be going into Batman: The Dark Knight territory.
  • Dial H For Hero looks like an indie horror book.
  • I think I’ll wait for Earth 2 to hit the trades before I consider reading it.
  • World’s Finest‘s revamp of Power Girl and Huntres really really makes me miss the Post-Crisis versions of the characters.
  • With the characters they chose and art by Ian Churchillthe Ravagers book reminds me of something that Wizard would have extensively covered during the 1990s.
  • GI Combat looks really cool, since it’s a non-capes book.

Justice League #8

Justice League isn’t a title that I plan on regularly reading, but I was intrigued with the eighth issue featuring Green Arrow. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the current portrayal of the character and as a lifelong Oliver Quinn I wanted to check this out.

Geoff Johns put it together mostly as a stand alone issue, with Green Arrow trying desperately to win the affection of the other Justice Leaguers. With the exception of Green Lantern, no one wants anything to do with him. Arrow tries his best to tag along and assist, much to everyone’s disdain.

This was a really fun issue to read. Unfortunately all of Green Arrow’s tagging along doesn’t get him a seat at the big kid’s table. The book does end with Steve Trevor, the government’s liaison to the team, offering him an opportunity to join another team. Please let it be Justice League International…

If I regularly rated things with starts, I would say this gets ****. It’s a good read. The story is self contained, but still fits into the greater continuity of the series. Pick this up.

Justice League and Cheerios Go Perfect Together

Cereal and comic books go together like, well, cereal and Saturday morning cartoons! General Mills teamed up with DC Comics to make a series of special tiny comics for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box this past fall/winter featuring the Justice League!

One of my coworkers thought enough to share the copy of Justice League: Sinister Imitation that came in her Golden Grahams. So how was this delicious comic? Well, for starters, it features a cover by Dan Jurgens which is always a good thing.

The story pits the Justice League against the evil Toy Man and his villainous doppelgangers. It is a short, simple super hero story suitable for all ages. As a promotional item, this succeeds as it introduces the primary heroes in the DC line without being cheesy.

That said, there was one thing that I questioned. This came out well into the New 52 relaunch, yet the characters all had their traditional costumes. I guess they didn’t want to turn off or confuse new readers. Either way, still a nice promotional effort.

What If The Justice League of America Were Professional Wrestlers?

Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance had an interesting post about what wrestlers best fill the roles of the members of the Justice League. While he was spot on that Dusty Rhodes would be the Superman of the group, I thought that there were some better choices to fill the roster.

The Batman would be Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The two are very similar, going into there line of work due to their family. They both have subterranean lairs under their ancestral homes; Hart being based in the family basement training facility known as the Dungeon and Batman’s Batcave under the Wayne Mansion. Both of them travelled the world, honing their craft. And really, Batman and “the Hitman” are known for their mastery of tactics (and execution) as well as their no-nonsense approach to everything.

The Undertaker would be the Martian Manhunter of the group. In both their respective genres, it is always stressed that their characters are other worldly. Even though they’re both very cold emotionally, fire causes them great deals of trouble–Undertaker’s evil brother Kane is known to light things on fire, and Manhunter is deathly afraid of it.

Trish Stratus and Wonder Woman are very similar; they respectively are the most successful woman wrestler and super hero, and that’s something you can’t argue.

Shawn Michaels would be the flash of the group, as both characters rely on their quickness to overcome larger and more powerful opponents.

Christian by far is the Aquaman of the group. How so? Aside from both of them being blonde and foreigners (Canada and Atlantis), neither of them are given the chance to live up to their full potential and are always delegated to second tier status. they both have their loyal fans who are always eager to say otherwise.

Finally, we have “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Hal Jordan. Both of them fall into the rogue hero archetype. They may be smart mouthed, but they have the toughness to back it up.

Justice League International #1

I finally found it! Justice League International #1 was found at a Barnes and Noble in Holyoke, Massachusetts on the way back from my friend Margot of White Hot Oven fame’s awesome wedding. So Sunday was a double treat for me–I went to a great wedding and got a chance to pick up the relaunch of one of my favorite comic book concepts. So how did Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti do?

The new JLI is founded by the United Nations to be their own multi-national super hero team. It seems that in the New DC, people are much more skeptical of super powered types like in the Marvel Universe. Lead by the popularity seeking Booster Gold, the new JLI is made up of some of the usual suspects like Guy Gardner (who resents taking orders from Booster), Fire and Ice, and the current Rocket Red. The new additions are Vixen (a perpetually underused character in the DC pantheon), Godiva (a forgotten super heroine with magic hair who flirts with Booster continually) and August General in Iron, a Chinese super hero from the Great Ten.

The book is a lot of exposition, as to why the heroes were picked for the team and how they interact. Batman, well because he’s Batman, has to be part of the team. He joins up independently, as the UN doesn’t want him in due to his secret identity. The book ends with the team setting off on their first mission.

Lopresti’s art is fine, and Jurgens does a good job of getting across all the different personalities. I like that he’s writing Booster to be a stronger character/leader type, as he did in Booster’s recently ended solo book. Overall, I would give this a B+, as it was very good and definitely peaked my interest for the next issue.

Why I Passed on Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1


 

I stopped by the local comic book store on Wednesday to see if there was a new issue of Namor out this week, which there wasn’t. The store was pretty busy with lots of people excited about Flashpoint and the new Justice League book, both of which I was planning on passing on.

When I went to the counter to make my purchase (an issue of Booster Gold I had skipped), the dude behind the counter seemed to be a little freaked out that I wasn’t interested in the hullabaloo of the new DC.

“Well it’s written by Geoff Johns!”

“I’m not that big of a fan of his.”

He looked at me like I was an alien.

“But everything starts from here!”

“Eh…I think I’ll wait.”

He gave up and finished the transaction. So why don’t I seem to care?

I don’t know. The whole things just turns me off for some reason. I’m a big fan of not changing things for the sakes of changing things. And with a lot of what I read online about it makes me hesitant to jump on board.

Mike Sterling had this to say on Justice League, which didn’t make it sound so hot.:

About the Justice League itself…well, yeah, as our intro to this new DC Universe continuity, it’s a little underwhelming. Superheroes meet, they fight, we get teased with the threat of Darkseid, oh hey there’s Superman, and suddenly “to be continued.” All very by-the-numbers, with nothing to intrigue or inspire the imagination. I mean, it looks okay, with Jim Lee turning in a respectable art job on this issue, even if Superman’s new costume continues to appear unnecessarily rejiggered. And I’m calling “no way” on Batman being able to yank Green Lantern’s ring off his hand without GL noticing. I mean, come on!

Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims is a bit more scathing in his review:

Ha! No, but the short version is that this comic is just flat-out not very good. And the thing is, it should be. A comic book with this much riding on it, this much promotion, the two creators who are meant to be the top guys in the industry working with the genuinely exciting premise of doing a bold new unshackled story of some of the greatest fictional characters ever? There’s no reason it shouldn’t be amazing. And yet, what we have here is, as Curt Franklin put it, a comic that reads like it came with an action figure. It’s not that there aren’t good parts to it, but it’s a C- book at best, and as an introduction to the New DC Universe, that doesn’t cut it.

So will I read this? probably at some point. I do like Jim Lee’s artwork a lot, so that is enough for me to want to look at Justice League. And Flashpoint will have some sort of historic impact, and it might be interesting to look at it and see if it holds up. But these aren’t books that I’m outwardly seeking. These are more of a borrow from the library kind of thing then an add to the collection.

So am I mad at DC? No, not at all. It’s a smart business move. They’re doing an all-in wager on building/rebuilding their audience which is totally respectable. While I might not believe that a whole creative shift was the way to go, I do think them jumping head first into digital distribution is the way to go to advance the medium.

The big test if this brand new vision for DC for me personally comes next week. How convenient is it that the three titles that I’m looking forward to all come out at the same time? Hawk and Dove is mostly for my love of Rob Liefeld books. Justice League International gets a buy the characters in it.

Green Arrow is a more bittersweet purchase for me. I’ve really taken a liking to the character since he came back in the Kevin Smith and Phil Hester series in the early 2000s. His supporting characters are just so dynamic, with Black Canary as his life partner/companion, Arsenal and Connor as the sons he should have spent more time with, and Mia being his redemption. The book is also drawn by Dan Jurgens, who really is one of my favorite–and underrated–artists in comics. Both of these are reasons to get excited. But for now, I’m not sure if this is the Green Arrow for me. It’s kind of like if you’re a big fan of Nightcrawler, but there is so much that is different about the Ultimate version that it does nothing for you.

So who knows how this is all going to pan out. I’ll worry about that later.

If There’s One Post About Comics Today That You Should Read I’m Talking About This One Right Here

Justice League inspects the comics (3) 

So there was a big comic book that came out today. Actually two.

I’m not talking about Flashpoint #5 or the new Justice League #1. I’m talking about this set of bagged goodies I found in my car. In the interest of disclosure, I was given this pack a while ago, but completely forgot about it.

Anyway, a company called Cards One specializes in putting together comic packs like these. Their business model is buying overstock and closeout of comics and cards, repackaging and selling them at discount stores like Five Below or your friendly neighborhood dollar store.

Today’s lunch break was time to break it open and see what literary treasures I would find.

Justice League inspects the comics (4)

So I dispatched the Justice League Desk Strike Force to investigate what was in this package.

The Question doesn't trust this mystery packageObviously the Question would be the natural skeptic of the group and would be the most hesitant to investigate a mystery package like this.

He would probably assume that it was part of some sort of trap or something like that.

After all, he’s this super hero team’s resident paranoid conspiracy theorist. I like keeping him at my desk to remind me of being skeptical, kind of like a reminder to get to the bottom of everything and find the truth. His creator Steve Ditko would be proud.Justice League inspects the comics
So what was in this value comic pack? Well first was Tales of the Teen Titans #64 which finishes up the Trigon Saga storyline and Raven sacrifices herself to stop her evil monster of a father. Wolverine #50 is wholey

Wolverine #50 was the other comic in the pack, with its special gimmick cover of a file folder of Wolvie’s secrets being slashed open. Holey promotional gimmick Batman! Story wise, the book is pure early 1990s fun. It was pencilled by some guy named Marc Silvestri. I wonder whatever happened to him…

The Question inspects the Crisis on Earths One and Two 

It also came with a trading card from DC’s first series of super hero cards from Impel back in 1992. It was about Crisis on Earths One and Two. The Question investigated, but he really didn’t believe it. Two earths? That’s crazy talk.

Review: Justice League Rise and Fall

I’ll admit that I skipped Justice League: Cry for Justice due to all the negativity it generated on the Internet. I did read Justice League: Rise and Fall its sequel which deals with its aftermath. Mostly the Green Arrow family is drastically effected; their home of Star City has been destroyed by Prometheus, who not only managed to chop off Arsenal’s arm but killed his daughter Lian through his destruction of the city. In retaliation, Green Arrow killed Prometheus. Collecting issues from Green Arrow and Rise of Arsenal, this collected version deal with how Green Arrow and Arsenal cope with what’s happened.

Justice League: Rise and Fall

The theme of Green Arrow’s story is vengeance for what has happened to his city and his extended family. Unfortunately, there are consequences.

The Justice League is after him once they realized that Prometheus was murdered. Black Canary, his ongoing love interest, has shunned him since he is more interested in trying to kill Electrocutioner–a small time villain who Prometheus used to destroy Star City–than help survivors.

His son Connor is disgusted by his conduct, and Arsenal–who is like a son to him–is mad since he feels he should have been the one to kill Prometheus. To make things worse, even the city he loves is mad at him; the citizens blame him for making Star City a target and some enemies in its government want to make an example of him for taking the law into his own hands and killing a criminal.

Green Arrow is on the run and has an epiphany when he prevents his sidekick Speedy from killing Electrocutioner. Green Arrow doesn’t want her to make the same wrong choices he did, and he turns himself and the Executioner in to the authorities. Ultimately, Green Arrow is acquitted of his murder charges by a jury due to his life long dedication to Star City. His freedom is conditional–he has been banned from ever setting foot inside city limits.

Writer J.T. Krul does a really good job in getting Green Arrow’s point of view across. Green Arrow knowingly did something wrong because he honestly felt it was the right thing to do. Not only that, but he was willing to accept the consequences of his actions and didn’t want Speedy to follow his mistakes.

The second half of the book deals with Arsenal’s descent into self-destructiveness. The scene when he wakes up in the hospital only to learn that he has lost not only his arm but his daughter Lian is really heartbreaking.

Through flashbacks we learn how much Arsenal loved his daughter, which adds to how much his life has fallen apart. He’s mad at the Justice League for not being able to save his daughter. He’s mad at Green Arrow, since he felt that he should have ultimately been the one to kill Prometheus and avenge Lian’s death. He’s angry at Speedy, since she was supposed to have protected Lian. And even though the Justice League has made him a robotic prosthetic arm, its pretty much worthless.

Simply put, Arsenal is a mess. He does not cope. And ultimately, Arsenal turns back to heroin, which he famously did back in the 1970s, for a way to escape.

Arsenal and Cheshire have...um...intimacy problems.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, he is confronted by Cheshire, Lian’s mother. The two wind up arguing over the loss of their child, and get into a physical fight.

This only leads to the two getting really passionate, and a failed attempt at intimacy.

 Arsenal gets humiliated yet again, suffering from performance anxiety, as showed in the picture to your left.

This is getting really uncomfortable to read.

Yes...that is a dead cat in his hands.

So Arsenal gets crazier and his downward spiral only gets worse with his drug abuse. How bad do things get? He thinks he’s talking with Lian and has to protect her from some thugs. Unfortunately for him–and the reader– when Batman (his former best friend Dick Grayson) gets his attention, we learn that he was hallucinating. Lian’s dead–he’s been holding and talking to a dead cat, and he just beat the snot out of a bunch of innocent homeless people. Dick is trying to get his friend to seek help, but he doesn’t care. Arsenal is quite content with the fact that his life has been ruined and is using it as an excuse to personally go off the deep end.

The final scene of the book is at the Star City prison, while Green Arrow is locked up. Arsenal has broken in to kill the Electrocutioner. The warden asks Green Arrow to help them stop Arsenal, and he agrees. After some brawling, Green Arrow pleads with Arsenal to not kill Electrocutioner, as it doesn’t fix anything.

Arsenal kills the villain. End book.

When you compare the two stories, Arsenal’s descent into madness is extremely uncomfortable. I guess that was the point of the story, and it certainly succeeded. When he was speaking to the deceased body of his daughter, I wanted to cry. The section with Cheshire was downright uncomfortable, and the bit with the cat made me want to vomit.

Kudos to Krul for putting together such a frightening tale of self-destruction. He won a PRISM Award for the portrayal of Arsenal’s drug abuse and mental illness. That’s actually a good thing, because if you can take away anything from this book its the importance of mental health.

So let’s talk about the new Justice League

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim LeeThis new picture of the new Justice League by Jim Lee has been circulating around today. The lineup has been known for some time now, but this is a better look at their modified character designs.

Aquaman looks the same as ever and so does Flash and Green Lantern. The one big thing on all these costumes is all the piping that makes it look like they’re wearing some sort of armor. That reminds me of how the DCU characters looked in the Mortal Kombat vs. DC game a few years back.

The big three seem to have the most changes. Wonder Woman is still wearing something similar to her recent revamp, except this new look has no yellow or the jacket. She’s also back to her more traditional style books as opposed to the 1980s stirrup biker pants. Also note the lack of American flag motifs, which I wonder (haha!) was a conscious effort to broaden her global appeal.

Superman and Batman really look like they bought their costumes together. They’ve both dropped wearing underwear on the outside, and Superman seems to be sporting a utility belt of some sort. Maybe its so he can carry his allergy medicine; I’ve heard pollen is just as bad as kryptonite.

And poor Cyborg, well, he looks like he’s wearing Lex Luthor armor. Sorry dude.

The other interesting thing is that in that picture is that there seem to be other JLA types on either side. In the blue panel, its Deadman, Atom, Element Woman (thank Bleeding Cool for identifying who it was; I had no idea) and Firestorm. For those who don’t know, Element Woman is a new character, pretty much a female version of Elemento, who debuted in the Flashpoint miniseries. I guess she survives it.

On the right, a red panel consisting of Green Arrow (you would thin that him being a life-long liberal would put him on the blue/left side ;)), Black Canaray, Hawkman and Mera, Aquaman’s wife.

I wonder what the significance of these two groups are; maybe something with the new guard vs. the old guard. Who knows.