The Threshold

Spotlight Sunday 1.13.19

A bit of corporate synergy means that there are spoilers ahead for…

Young Justice #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Cover: (Superboy Variant) Jorge Jimenez
Rated T+
$4.99
DC

“You know, I’ll take that sass from just about anyone else in my life…but not from Zeus’ granddaughter!”

One of the things I was most eagerly anticipating in 2019 was the return of Young Justice.

The animated series, that is. After years of demand – and high viewership numbers of the existing seasons on Netflix – the addition of a third season to the much-beloved series prompted a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement for fans of the show…until it was announced that it would be exclusive to yet-another-streaming-service, a sign of what increasingly seems to be a move to recreate cable TV on the internet.

One of these days I’ll probably write up something about the DC Universe streaming service, but now, I’ll just mention that the new season of YJ has so far proven to be worth the wait.

Of course, right now we’re talking about the return of the comic on which the animated series was based, which is something else fans have been demanding for years. Since before the animated series ever launched, in fact.

So, how does it stack up?

Well…

It’s not bad! While Bendis is much more like himself here than he has been in Superman and Action in terms of some of his tics as a writer showing up on the page, it’s a perfectly fine start to a new series that walks the line between introducing something new and acknowledging what came before.

With Young Justice: Outsiders – the animated offering – the action can pick up right where it left off, as that “universe” has essentially been in stasis since the second season ended. With the comic, that luxury isn’t available, as it’s been a longer stretch since the last series ended and the larger universe in which the team existed has undergone significant changes.

I’ve mentioned many times before that it still remains unclear, post-“Rebirth,” what is and isn’t in continuity, or at least – as here – how what is in continuity manages to fit. We don’t really get any answers – and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to in a first issue – but we do get some more questions. However, there is some acknowledgement of the fact that history is a bit wonky right from the start.

Said acknowledgment occurs at the beginning, as we open on another world where a man who says he was born on Earth is talking to his father about the current state of their world and how it is tied to Earth and the many – seven, by his count – history-altering crises that the Earth has undergone.

The world in question is revealed to be Gemworld, and the man from Earth is Prince Carnelian, speaking to his father, Dark Opal.

From there, we move to Metropolis where a young woman who’s been driving a rickety old pick up truck all the way from Texas is pulled over for a broken tail light. The young woman explains that’s she’s packed up her life to move to the Big Apricot, as is evidenced by the – rather suspicious – pile of junk just barely held in place in the bed of the truck by a tarp.

Before the cop can investigate further, they’re both reminded that they’re in Metropolis, where crazy things – warriors from the twelve houses of Gemworld demanding that Superman show himself, in this case – drop down out of the sky on the regular.

While the Action Ace is a no-show, Robin (Tim Drake) happens to be in town, and does what he can to help contain the situation. He gets an assist from the young Texan, whose name is Jinny Hex. While he appreciates the help, Robin’s not thrilled by her use of lethal weapons, which prompts Jinny to dig through her junk pile and produce some kind of fancy ray gun.

We get a bit of a flashback to a few minutes earlier when Tim had a chance encounter with Cassie Sandsmark, AKA Wonder Girl, who tells him that she feels like she hasn’t been doing what she should be doing and has moved to Metropolis to attend school and sort things out, believing that being in a city under the watchful eye of Superman would be more relaxing.

That’s when the invasion happens, but despite Tim’s suggestion that they team up, Cassie insists that she needs to sit this one out.

Fortunately, as the battle rages, she changes her mind and joins the fray, as does Bart “Impulse” Allen, who happened to be running to Canada at the time (as a bit of a meta-joke, Bart says that he was heading there to join Alpha– the thought is cut off before he can complete it).

(We get another meta-joke in the form of a cameo from the two young women who popped up in the preview of The Man of Steel in Action Comics #1000, who were in the diner that got trashed, and are in that same diner with a “Not again!” as it gets trashed here.)

Another hero shows up as well, a “sort of” Green Lantern, hidden inside a ring-construct mecha, going by the name “Teen Lantern.”

Bart believes it’s fate and that Young Justice is together again, though Tim asserts that can’t be the case without Conner. As the Gemworld warriors decide to retreat, our young heroes find themselves caught in an onomatopoeia storm, and we follow two of them as they wind up in different locations.

Tim’s welcome to wherever he is isn’t exactly the warmest:

Bart, however, does get a much friendlier greeting:

Anyone who knows me well and has paid attention knows of my fondness for Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, and will likely understand why I’m very leery of seeing the character’s return.

From what little we’ve seen, this seems to be a mixture of the original, which I loved, and the version introduced as part of “The New 52,” whose title was one of the earliest casualties of that initial group, which I was considerably more ambivalent about.

(I will say that Gleason did a fantastic job with his rendering of the evil Dark Opal, echoing the style of original Amethyst artist Ernie Colón without aping it.)

I was initially concerned that Cassie’s reluctance to join the fray was going to be some tired “I’ve lost my powers” thing, but I’m glad to see that wasn’t the case and am interested in finding out what’s up with that.

One other area of concern for me is Impulse, as he represents something of a nightmare scenario for Bendis to Bendis up the whole thing as far as dialogue goes. As it is, in his brief appearance here, Bart is already a bit much.

Gleason’s art is a good match for the story and characters, and he does an especially good job with the frenetic scenes with Bart quickly bouncing around Metropolis, though I will say that there are times when even the slightly slower action is a bit hard to follow.

I’m also impressed by the bright and vibrant color work from Alejandro Sanchez.

I’m not sure who is part of “DC Lettering,” but the lettering is crisp and clear, and the sound effects in that onomatopoeia storm were especially well-done.

That said, after checking out this first issue, I’m probably going to trade-wait on this series.

I understand the need to appeal to new readers, fans of the old series, and fans of the show, but I think that it would make more sense to put the thumb on the scales in favor of the animated series a bit more, at least in terms of some of the characters, or the characterization of the characters, but we’ll see how it goes.

There is definitely some potential – enough to keep me interested – but I keep insisting to myself that I’m going to do more trade-waiting but failing to do it, so this will be a good test.

YJ is the first title from a new line of new-reader-friendly and teen-focused comics curated by Bendis. “Wonder Comics” will see other titles such as Wonder Twins and Dial H for HERO joining the line-up later this year.

We’ll see if it pays off, and as I mentioned, it would probably be smart to align things a bit more with some of DC’s properties in other media, where they get much more exposure, but for right now, it’s a decent start. I’ll close out with one of the other fantastic variant covers, this one from Evan “Doc” Shaner.

Recommended Reading

Young Justice.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 1.6.19

Conan the Barbarian #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Cover: Esad Ribic
$4.99
Marvel

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world, like blue mantles beneath the stars…”

The Nemedian Chronicles

The “Welcome Back” video at the top of the post, is of course, a reference to the return of the Spotlight after an end-of-the-year absence, but more importantly it refers to the return of a certain black-haired, sullen-eyed thief, reaver, and slayer with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirths whose sandaled feet have trod back to where they belong.

To be clear, I have greatly enjoyed the continued adventures of the wandering Cimmerian published by Dark Horse Comics over the years, but to me, Marvel feels likes it’s Conan’s home. It was Marvel that first introduced me to the character when I was a kid, and one of the things I’ve treasured most in recent years is the addition of the reprinted volumes collecting Marvel’s Savage Sword of Conan that I’ve added to my library.

As much as I’ve loved the original stories by Robert E. Howard, and the assorted novels written by others who followed in his footsteps, Marvel Conan is my favorite Conan.

Sometimes in life you find that there is something you never knew you wanted, but then, when you have it, you can’t imagine how you ever lived without it. Jason Aaron writing Conan is one such example. My exact words when I learned that this was happening were “Fuck yes.”

And with this debut issue, as is to be expected, this perfect pairing does not disappoint.

Aaron’s Conan is exactly the Conan I wanted – needed – in my life: a straightforward yet sardonic savage who, in his way, is more civilized than the urban sophisticates among whom he so often finds himself.

With Conan, Aaron takes a narrative approach that is similar to one he’s used to great effect in Thor, telling a tale that takes place at different points in the life of Conan, with a young Conan making an enemy who later returns to haunt the older King Conan.

After a brief introduction, which includes a montage of images of Conan at Marvel throughout the years, and shows us his birth on the battlefield in Cimmeria, and the end of his life as the king of Aquilonia, we find a young Conan doing what he does best in a fighting pit in Zamora.

The melee ultimately leads to just two remaining combatants, Conan, a giant of a man, even larger than the Cimmerian. The audience favors the larger of the two, but an attractive young woman puts her money on the Northman, and while it initially appears that she did not gamble wisely, Conan soon rewards her faith in him.

The men who took the woman’s bet are less than eager to pay what they owe, and are instead intent to take her money and whatever else she has to offer. That works out about as well for them as fighting against Conan did for the corpses in the pit.

As Conan enjoys the fruits of his labor – he took half of his winnings in gold, and the other half in wine – the mysterious woman approaches him and he turns on his patented Cimmerian charm.

Sullen-eyed and iron-thewed, but not-exactly silver-tongued.

Still, because he’s Conan, one thing eventually leads to another, and the two make their way someplace a bit more private.

And because he’s Conan, that one thing eventually leads to another, and the woman turns out to be a hideous old crone in disguise who poisons him and drags him down to a subterranean alter that is older than even Atlants or Acheron to sacrifice him to the elder god, Razazel, the Red Doom.

(This is why I don’t date anymore.)

After a quick test to make sure that Conan is Mr. Right – unlike the corpses of all the Mr. Wrongs that are strewn about the place – the witch learns that Conan’s blood is to her god’s liking and that, as she saw in a vision, the Cimmerian will die in this place, but before she can provide the rest of the blood and finish raising the god, Conan breaks free, and after battling his way through the reanimated warriors he separates the witch from her head and makes the long climb back to the surface.

We then jump ahead in time as King Conan surveys the damage on the battlefield after Aquilonia put down an attempted invasion by Turan.

He’s distracted by a couple of weird kids who are loading up a wagon with corpses.

Conan approaches them to tell them that collecting corpses is a weird thing for kids to be doing, but is soon interrupted by a familiar face – the Crimson Witch who tried to sacrifice him to Razazel, While her head is once more – somewhat precariously – attached to her body, she is considerably less chatty, but no less fearsome, swiftly killing King Conan’s guards, and managing to fend off his deadliest blows.

The king makes the mistake of turning his back on the weird kids and gets two knives in the back for it, and we end with the kids preparing to load him on the cart and haul him back down to the subterranean temple to finish what was started so many years before.

The issue is rounded out with the first installment of a serialized prose novella by John C. Hocking. I haven’t read it yet, but its mere existence is a welcome bit of nostalgia, as this was the sort of thing that was often done in the Marvel years, particularly within the pages of SSoC.

Speaking of which, Marvel has big plans for Conan, which includes two additional Conan titles: a new Savage Sword and an Age of Conan mini-series starring Conan’s one true love, the Pirate Queen Bêlit.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I love most about Conan is that, as an archetype, he’s a character who can work in almost any kind of story, not limited to the confines of his specific genre. Marvel recognizes that, and is busy reintegrating him into the larger Marvel Universe, which was always a big part of the appeal for the character in his previous tenure at Marvel. Conan – and the Hyborian Age – will be making an appearance in the mini-series Avengers: No Way Home, further establishing his triumphant return.

Another reason I love having Conan back at Marvel – and, again, I have nothing but love for Dark Horse’s efforts; they kept the torch burning, after all – is that so many tremendous artists lent their talents to the telling of his tales during that time. John Buscema, Ernie Chan, Alfredo Alcala, Ruby Nebres…the list goes on and on.

That tradition continues with the fantastic art of Mahmud Asur, who brings a dynamic – and brutal – approach to the storytelling, with explosive action and deft rendering of the handful of quieter scenes. I particularly love the wildness in the eyes of his Conan that makes it clear that while he may appear calm, this savage Northman is anything but tame.

As he always does everywhere, Matt Wilson knocks it out of the park with his brilliant colors, making every page feel blood-soaked and adding a visceral grittiness to the art.

To my eternal shame, I seldom focus on the lettering when I do these Spotlight posts, even though I know from experience just how important having a good letterer is. Travis Lanham does a phenomenal job here, helping to make this book the triumphant return it is (and I needed it to be).

The cover by Esad Ribic captures the feel of the classic covers from the novels and serves as the ideal wrapping on this perfect gift from the gods*.

I don’t know that there’s any need for me to say anything more about the story from Jason Aaron. It’s Conan. It’s Jason Aaron. ‘Nuff Said.

This is a great start to something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and I’m eager for 2019 to be the Year of Conan.

Recommended Reading

Conan!

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

*Most likely just, like, Mitra and maybe Ishtar. Definitely not Crom. Crom isn't one for gift-giving.

End of The Year Miscellany

Jon Maki, President and Publisher

I hope everyone’s holidays are going well so far, and while I mentioned in my last post that I was stepping out of the Spotlight for a bit, I thought I would pop in just to say hello and to talk about a few things.

The original intent of The Threshold was for it to be an official blog for OpenDoor Comics, serving as something akin to the old “publishorials” that DC used to publish, or the later “Meanwhile…” columns by the late Dick Giordano, or a combination of Marvel’s “Bullpen Bulletins” and “Stan’s Soapbox.”

That is, it would be a place for news about happenings here at ODC and commentary about the comics industry in general.

Somewhere along the line I got a bit sidetracked, with the majority of the content here consisting of the Spotlight Sunday posts and little else.

The Spotlight isn’t going away, but I do hope to start mixing things up a bit with additional content in the new year. Stay tuned. (Or, more accurately, become tuned.)

In the meantime, I want to just throw a few things out there that are not necessarily related to ODC but may be of interest to some of you.

I mentioned “Stan’s Soapbox” earlier, and in all of their comics this month, in celebration of the life of “The Man” – who would have been 96 today – Marvel has reprinted this classic:

Excelsior.

If you haven’t seen Into the Spider-Verse yet, do so. It’s fantastic.


If you haven’t seen Aquaman yet, consider it. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s fun, and making things that are fun is something that DC should definitely be encouraged to do.


Did you know that Comicsgate is a hate group, one that is, like most of the “-gate” movements that have preceded it, being used as a recruitment tool by nationalist, white supremacist, misogynist, homophobic and transphobic organizations? Well, it is. It’s also profoundly stupid.

And finally, I did something nerdy and, I think, anyway, kind of cool.

Anyone who’s read the Spotlight is likely familiar with my fondness for a certain fictional Ace reporter for a fictional major metropolitan newspaper. I remain annoyed that DC didn’t see fit to recognize that this year marked the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Lois Lane just as it did that of her husband.

At a minimum, there should have been a month of line-wide Lois Lane variant covers.

At a minimum.

In any case, while thinking about Lois – which is a thing I often do – I stumbled upon an idea. I’m sure others have done something similar – and probably did a better job of it – but here’s the result of that idea: a composite image comprised of nine woman who have portrayed Lois on TV and in the movies, as well as the woman who modelled for Lois Lane’s co-creator Joe Schuster (and who married the other co-creator), Joanne Siegel.

I thought it might be fun to share the results here. I was probably wrong about that, but here they are anyway.

Composite Lois is not at all like the Composite Superman.

In this photo we have Joanne Siegel, Noel Neil, Phyllis Coates, Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Dana Delany, Erica Durance, Kate Bosworth, Amy Adams, and Elizabeth Tulloch (the most recent Lois).

I left out quite a few others, mostly because I wanted to keep it manageable and limit myself to some of the most notable portrayers. (Some were left out just because I couldn’t find a suitable photograph.)

There are undoubtedly other methods and tools that would yield better results, but this is what I was able to do quickly and relatively easily in Photoshop. (It’s very difficult to find pictures of so many different women that are suitable for being aligned with each other in this fashion – many actresses concern themselves with capturing their “good side” – so that presented the biggest challenge. Dana Delany was especially difficult to fit in, as I discovered that she’s usually smiling broadly in photographs and sort of leaning back.)

I tried to align the images centered on the eyes, though that wasn’t always possible.

Using that image, I went on to draw my own interpretation, kind of averaging out some of the features, and also, I think, with a bit of an unconscious bias for one Lois in particular:

Here are some more of the combinations I played around with.

Lois in 1978

This one is made up of the women who had portrayed her by 1978 (with Joanne Siegel included): Margot Kidder, Phyllis Coates, and Noel Neil. I find it interesting, as it does look rather a lot like Lois did in the comics of the era.

Movie Lois

Movie Lois is Noel Neil, Margot Kidder, Kate Bosworth, and Amy Adams.

TV Lois

This one didn’t line up very well. I probably should have, technically, included Dana Delany, but…I didn’t. Noel Neil (again; she played Lois in the movie serials before reprising the role years later on TV), Teri Hatcher, Erica Durance, Elizabeth Tulloch.

Lois in 2006
Teri Hatcher and Erica Durance

I personally think that the best blending – some of the alignment issues aside – is of two of the TV Lois Lanes, Teri Hatcher and Erica Durance.

There were several other permutations I played around with, but these were the most interesting. I may revisit this in the future, bringing in some more Loises from some of the other animated offerings, or even do something similar with images of Lois by different artists.

That does it for this random year-end post of randomness. I’ll see you in the new year, with new Spotlight posts and other posts besides (but probably not posts like this one).

Happy New Year!

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 12.16.18

The fact that, like it or not, it is that season, means there are spoilers ahead for…

Red Sonja Holiday Special
Writer: Amy Chu, Erik Burnham, Roy Thomas, Clair Noto
Artist: Ricardo Jamie, Frank Thorne
Cover: Leonardo Romero
Rated Teen+
$4.99
Dynamite

“This time of year, people try a little harder to help others. Peace on earth, good will towards all, you know?”
“I do not.”

Despite my general grinchiness, I thought I should probably make some acknowledgement of the season and take a look at one of the many holiday specials on the stands. I missed – though by some accounts, I suppose I should say “missed” – the offering from DC this year, and while I did also grab a Hellboy special, that particular red character made a holiday appearance last year.

But red is one of the colors associated with the season, so it was only fitting to pick instead one of the unlikelier specials. Unlikely, of course, because of the era in which the character lives – it’s rather like paradox of The Flintstones or the characters in the comic strip B.C. celebrating the birth of someone who, from their perspective, hasn’t been born yet – but the She-Devil with a sword has a distinct advantage in that regard, given that she engages in time travel on a semi-regular basis.

Thus, as she makes her way through the snowy woods and encounters a poor, hungry woman vainly seeking warmth, the color of the woman’s cloak reminds her of her visit to a future time and she is moved by the spirit of the season to offer the woman food, warmth, and the story of that memory.

Shortly after her arrival in modern-day New York, she and her friend Max – who later proved, unbeknownst to him, to be a time-tossed resident of the Hyborian Age – were rushing down the snowy Manhattan streets on Max’s motorcycle. Well, “rushing” is a relative thing – Sonja asserted that she could run faster than they were moving in the gridlocked winter traffic.

After a man in a red suit standing on a street corner laughs at her, or so she thinks, Sonja wants to stop to show the man the error of his ways, but Max explains that he wasn’t laughing at her, and as Sonja observes the New Yorkers gathering at “temples” (stores), and purchasing trees, she realizes that there is indeed much in this strange new world that she does not understand.

She’s especially confused when they stop at a diner and she sees the proprietor deliver kindness to a beggar rather than the beating she anticipated.

Max does his best to explain the holidays to Sonja, focusing on the diverse cultures clustered together in the city that never sleeps, and how virtually all of them have some kind of traditional winter holidays that occur around the same time, and that even those who don’t hold any of the beliefs those holidays reflect are often moved by the spirit to be a little kinder.

Sonja soon turns Max’s words against him, roping him into helping out a man who Max initially writes off as a nut and wants to just dump into the system (Max is a cop), but Sonja prevails upon the way of “the Santaclaus,” whose colors the man wears, to coerce Max into helping right now.

While we see that this little side quest actually connects to the larger story of Sonja’s time in the present, even in her telling of the tale Sonja is unaware that the man they’re helping – who was beaten for overhearing some mob types talking about their plans, and who lost his dog, Rudolph, in the process – has just had an encounter with her ancient enemy, the sorcerer Kulan Gath.

While Sonja initially pounds the stuffing out of the goons still pursuing the man in the Santa outfit, they eventually produce the “powerful magic” of guns, and the three are soon on the run, but are saved by…Santa Claus!

Shortly thereafter, the drunken and battered Santa is reunited with his Rudolph, and though Sonja is eager to join the revelry, Max insists they’ve had enough excitement and that he’s interested in having a silent night from this point on.

Back in the Hyborian Age, the telling of the tale comes to an end, though Sonja lets the woman know that there is a grander tale to be told, if the woman is interested in travelling with her for a time. She is, but she asks if Sonja ever thinks about trying to find a way to return to Max’s time.

Sonja admits that she does miss things like warm baths and cold beers, and Max, of course, but it is not her time. Still, telling the tale and honoring the ways of Max’s gods by engaging in an act of kindness at this time of year did make her feel close to him once more and provided a moment of peace and goodwill.

The special is rounded out with a reprint of a classic tale from the Marvel era, with art by legendary Red Sonja artist Frank Thorne.

This tale has no holiday connection, featuring a weary Sonja headed towards a city that she hopes will offer her a comfortable place to sleep, good ale to drink, good food to eat, and a minstrel to sing sad songs.

She is warned away from the village by a talking goat, but does not take the warning to heart, and, in time, learns that the whole city was an illusion created by Death himself as a means of trapping Sonja.

At least it’s three legs that the goat has, rather than three of something else…

Fortunately, while they didn’t dissuade her from entering the city, remembering the goat’s warnings provides the clues she needs to escape from Death’s trap.

This was a very slight comic in terms of content, with nothing really going for it beyond being connected to the season. It’s very talky, with not a whole lot in the way of action.

While the main story is connected to the recent events in Sonja’s regular series, it doesn’t really add much, or do anything to push the ongoing narrative – the last few issues of the regular series have mostly been one-off stories of late – so it’s mostly just…there. It’s not bad, and it’s a fun little holiday-themed diversion, but it’s nothing to write home about, or probably to even write a Spotlight post about, I suppose.

And yet, here we are.

The art in the main story is solid, with an especially good use of facial expressions, which is a bonus, given the aforementioned lack of action. However, the already-gratuitous nature of Sonja’s outfit seems even more gratuitous – and out-of-place, given the weather – here, particularly with some of the poses.

I mean…

But you can see what I mean about the facial expressions, right? (Yes, there are faces on that page.)

The “classic” story is exactly the kind of thin story you’d find as a back-up feature in the 1970s, but it is saved by the art of Thorne, whose work can also be called gratuitous, but he has the advantage of having achieved iconic status, and benefits from the nostalgia of olds like me, for whom Thorne’s Sonja was the Sonja.

So, yeah. ‘Tis the season and all that, even in a a harsh and brutal era in which “the season” did not yet exist as such.

Recommended Reading

Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 12.9.18

Another week of playing catch-up means that there are spoilers ahead for…

The Green Lantern #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Cover: Liam Sharp
Rated T+
$3.99
DC

Before we get started, I can announce the selection of a winner of the first (and only) OpenDoor Comics Peer Pressure Prize Sweepstakes. Congratulations to Seed of Bismuth! Thanks to everyone who participated, even though the prizes were enough to keep almost everyone else away. Will there be other prize giveaways in the future? Based on the "success" of this one...well, we'll see.

“Nurse, I’d call a doctor if I were you. But tell them this man killed 2.5 billion people. Tell them there’s no need to hurry.”

Given that most people who consume genre fiction in which a role can be passed along tend to favor the character who held the role when they first started consuming said genre fiction as “their” version of the character, Hal Jordan should be “my” Green Lantern.

While there were other Green Lanterns – and I don’t just mean the other members of the Corps; I mean people who were the main focus of the series – for brief periods, when I started reading comics, Hal was the Green Lantern living on Earth – on Earth-One, anyway –  and the star of the titular series.

I liked him well enough, I suppose, and there was a period during which I really liked the series* – it was at that same time that I came to really appreciate John Stewart, who, thanks to the DC Animated Universe, is a Green Lantern that an entire generation of fans view as “theirs” – but eventually I, and apparently many others, grew to find Hal a bit…tiresome. Bland. Boring.

It probably didn’t help that DC kept removing one of the corps core aspects of the character that made him interesting: the fact that he was part of something much larger, an entire corps of Green Lanterns spread out across the universe. The existence of the larger Green Lantern Corps provided a lot of narrative possibilities, but, sadly, those possibilities were rarely explored, and the stories tended to focus on the earthbound, generic adventures of Hal Jordan, to the extent that the larger Corps was thrown into disarray, and then, ultimately, ended, leaving just a handful of active GLs.

(I always found it amusing/revealing that the Green Lantern Corps persisted for uncounted millennia right up until a human became a member, at which point the whole thing just fell apart.)

Still, I wasn’t a fan of a the heel turn that Hal eventually took, but that did lead to the Green Lantern that I do think of as mine: Kyle Rayner.

As with Wally West – who is my Flash – I liked Kyle because I was there from, more or less, the start, able to watch him grow into the role, and to earn the name. (Also, Wally was a lot less bland than Barry Allen.) With Kyle, there was the additional aspect of working not only to live up to the role he found himself in, but to redeem it in the wake of his predecessor’s actions.

I honestly liked Hal more in his role as The Spectre in the series by J.M. DeMatteis and the late Norm Breyfogle. I thought it was a much better redemptive arc for the character than what came later with his return to ring-slinging.

In any case, Hal has been the Green Lantern again for a while, even if he is one amongst many, but I haven’t read any Green Lantern titles in quite some time, so I’m not really that up on the state of things.

That doesn’t appear to be necessary for enjoying The Green Lantern, however, as writer Grant Morrison is clearly doing his own thing with the title, with said “thing” being borrowing from different parts of the characters’ history, but leaning very heavily on the science fiction aspects of the Silver Age.

He’s also leaning into the whole “space cop” idea, which, from my most recent readings seems to be a popular approach, structuring the story as something of a police procedural, except in space.

Last issue – which is one I had intended to write about, but it was sold out by the time I got to the comic shop, and by the time I did pick it up there was something else that got my focus – we found an earthbound Hal on suspension. However, circumstances were such that he ended up being called back to active duty to investigate an assault on the member of the Corps that stemmed from an unsuccessful attempt by space pirates to steal a “Luck Dial” from the Luck Lords of Ventura.

The sponsors of the heist – a group of Blackstars, who are a sort of more extreme version of the Green Lantern Corps, run by the Controllers, who are related to the Guardians who run the Corps – referred to the dial as “Component One,” though what it’s meant to be a component of is not yet clear.

However, this issue opens with some Blackstars busting the villainous Evil Star out of his Guardian-imposed imprisonment.

Back on Oa, Hal is interrogating a captured space pirate to get to the bottom of what’s going on, not yet aware that there is any connection to another case being worked by the Corps that involves missing planets.

The pieces of the puzzle start coming together later, however, after Hal gets the pirate to talk, and we see the Blackstars take Evil Star’s “Star-Band” weapon – Component Three – from him, and leave him adrift in space somewhere near Earth.

The Blackstars, we learn, are using the Star-Band as the basis for a mass-produced weapon that can be incorporated into their battlesuits, and we see the Controller behind it offering the services of the Blackstars to the the Dhorian Slavers (the most famous of whom is Kanjar Ro) to provide security while the Dhorian’s go about their business.

Said business being stealing planets. Why are the Blackstars, who are more inclined to punish evil than abet it, helping them out? We’ll find out, though the Controller assures them that one day their time will come.

With the Blackstars’ backing, the Dhorians set about their latest planetary heist as Hal heads home after visiting the dessicated and decrepit Evil Star in a hospital and learning about the partnership between the Blackstars and the Dhorians.

Which, uh, which planet do you suppose the Dhorians decided to steal?

Green Lantern, particularly an incarnation that is in a more cosmic setting, is a good fit for Grant Morrison, who, for good and ill, is known for some of his more “out there” concepts. So far, the plot is considerably more straightforward than is typical for Morrison. His imagination is seems to be running with the characters and the settings more than with the narrative.

(I am kind of amused by having Earth being stolen be part of the story so close on the heels of a similar event happening in the current Bendis run on Action Superman.)

That cosmic focus is a good idea when you’re working with someone who is, frankly, as unappealing as Hal Jordan is often presented, as it draws attention away from his strange combination of skeeviness and blandness.

I have to wonder if DC, aware that there is a vast untapped potential with GL, is hoping that Morrison can build some real excitement and enthusiasm for the character that can translate into a cinematic effort that can undo some of the damage of the 2011 offering.

While I am excited by the prospect of what Morrison will do with Green Lantern – irrespective of the motivation – what really stands out so far is the amazing, meticulously-rendered artwork of Liam Sharp.

Just look at this:

Sharp also stands out in his character design, going wild with some of the alien Lanterns, such as Lantern Volk, who has a frickin’ volcano for a head.

It will be interesting to see when two immense talents who both have an obvious affection for the Silver Age will go with such a quintessentially Silver Age character and set of concepts. So far, we’re off to a promising start.

Recommended Reading

Morrison.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

*Those runs are, unfortunately, marred by recent developments involving the writer. It's possible, sometimes, to separate the art from the artist, but...damn.

Spotlight Sunday 12.2.18

The end of an informal moratorium and the early days of a new creative team mean that there are spoilers ahead for…

Wonder Woman #59
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Cary Nord
Cover: Terry and Rachel Dodson
Rated T
$3.99
DC

 “He? Who said anything about a he?”

Back when the comic featured in the Spotlight was selected by the votes of readers, I ended up doing along streak of Wonder Woman stories. It wasn’t a great time to be writing about the adventures of the Amazing Amazon, frankly. The comics weren’t bad, exactly,they just weren’t particularly interesting, and I was bothered by the fact that DC hadn’t had the sense to have a woman writing the series. Given how rarely that’s happened over the years, the period following the success of the movie seemed like the ideal time to correct that imbalance. There was a very brief run by Shea Fontana, but it was mostly filler as they prepared to have James Robinson take over the series.

Feeling a bit burned out, once things changed and I was the one making the selection, I opted to take a break from writing about Diana.

During Robinson’s run, however, it was announced that Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson would be taking over the writing chores towards the end of the year.

Now that her run is underway, I’ve decided it’s a good time to check in and see how things are going. The short answer, two issues in, is “Pretty well.”

Last issue found Diana having a prophetic dream about Steve getting in trouble while on a mission in another country and, despite the objections of Etta Candy, who had called to inform Diana that the dream from which she just awoke had come true, she rushed off to his rescue.

Meanwhile, on Themyscira, we checked in on the cell, deep below the ground, in which the Amazons held Ares captive along with his new cellmate, Grail, the daughter of Darkseid.

The two weren’t exactly getting along swimmingly,particularly given that his time as a prisoner had apparently changed Ares for the better, leading him to regret the manner in which he had lived his life prior to his imprisonment. Seeking justice rather than release, Ares asks Grail to kill him, and she obliges. The death of the God of War causes a great disturbance across Themyscira, a disturbance, Hippolyta fears, that will go well-beyond the confines of the island.

Back in Patriarch’s World, Diana travels to the war-torn country in which Steve is missing. An oppressed minority, led by a brutal warlord, is in conflict with the brutal dictator who rules the country, a dictator who is supported by the US of A.

Steve has been either captured or killed by the rebels,and though Diana finds the entire situation, and in particular, America’s support of the authoritarian leader, distressing, her primary concern is finding Steve.

Still, while she’s not there to intervene, she does stop government forces from murdering a young boy, and while those soldiers talk about “monsters”that they claim the boy is hiding – it’s clear that this isn’t simply a dehumanizing description of the rebels – she doesn’t have time to find out what they mean.

We learn, however, that the soldiers were right: the boy is hiding monsters, or rather, mythical creatures such as a satyr, who have found themselves far from their home in Olympus.

Diana, meanwhile, finds herself face-to-face with a reborn Ares, who declares that he has changed his ways and, like Diana, he wishes to fight for justice and protect the weak.

That’s were this issue picks up, as Diana and Ares find themselves in the middle of the conflict, and though Diana is uncertain as to whether she can take Ares at his word, she’s willing to accept his help in bringing the battle – which is, inconveniently, preventing her from finding Steve – to an end.

Unfortunately, she learns that what Ares considers “justice” doesn’t really align with her definition.

As the government fires a missile towards the rebels, she and Ares fly up to stop it. While she suggests redirecting it towards an empty field, Ares has a different idea, opting to drop it on a nearby inhabited village.

“To turn the weapons of a tyrant against his own people…is there any greater poetry?”

Diana attacks Ares, accusing him of lying to her and not changing at all. Ares, however, contends that he hasn’t told her any lies.

Their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of American fighter jets, which Ares attacks. Diana moves in to rescue one of the pilots and is in turn attacked by Ares.

Elsewhere, the boy has led the group of mythical creatures to some ancient ruins where other such creatures are gathered and are holding Steve prisoner.

Upon learning that Diana is there looking for him, Steve attempts an escape, but is soon recaptured, and a griffon informs him that they are going to take him to their leader.

The hiring of Wilson alone was enough to send the “anti-SJW”crowd into fits, and it amuses me greatly that in her debut on Wonder Woman she’s telling exactly the kind of story that will make them even angrier, addressing the complex and unsavory foreign policy practices of our government. The nonsense argument that “Comics shouldn’t be political” is not only historically illiterate, it’s a disingenuous lie from people who are really saying, “Comics shouldn’t be political…unless they’re espousing my politics.”

It’s a promising start, focusing on the contrast between a simplistic view of justice and one that’s more nuanced but which can be just as imperfect in its application as a more cut-and-dried approach. It’s especially interesting, given that in the last issue Diana was accused by Etta of having too simplistic a view of the way of the world.

I mostly know Cary Nord’s work from his run on the Dark Horse Comics Conan series – and, by the way, I’m eagerly anticipating the sullen-eyed, iron-thewed Cimmerian’s return to Marvel next month – and while he’s a good “get” for this title, I’m not sure he’s the right fit, at least for some of the more modern elements. His style works well with the mythical creatures and the pastoral landscapes in which we find them, but he doesn’t exactly excel at the rendering of the advanced weaponry or the scenes of modern warfare. It’s a minor complaint, and he does have a good storytelling flow, but this issue also seems a bit rushed compared to the last, with a very loose style that isn’t always appealing.

(I am loving the covers by the Dodsons, however.)

We’ll see where this goes, but I like it so far, and at the very least it doesn’t have Jason in it.

Recommended Reading

Go read last week’s post and enter the OpenDoor Comics Peer Pressure Prize Sweepstakes for your chance to win cool prizes. Then pressure your peers into doing the same to increase your chances of winning. You can also sign up using the form in the navigation pane to the left of this post.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 11.25.18

A light week at the comic shop means that at long last it’s here – A Very Special™ Spotlight Sunday!

The New Teen Titans: Plague
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: George Perez
DC/Keebler Company

The 1980s are famously associated with a lot of cultural trends. Parachute pants! Breakdancing! Shoulder pads! Big hair!

Alongside all of those artifacts of that bygone era, the “Very Special Episode” enjoyed something of a heyday, as normally goofy sitcoms would set aside a half hour every so often to “get serious” and tackle one of the problems of the day, whether it was Alex P. Keaton learning that his fun-loving uncle, portrayed by Tom Hanks, had a not-at-all fun drinking problem, Arnold and Dudley hanging out at the world’s worst bike shop, or, in a carry over to the following decade, Jessie Spano being so excited and so…scared, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting some message-heavy bit of TV programming.

(There may have even been an episode of Perfect Strangers that warned people not to throw rocks.)

Comics weren’t immune to this phenomenon, of course, particularly given that taking the approach of delivering a very important message was one of the only ways to address certain topics at all back in the days of Comics Code Authority. Sometimes, even that approach was not sufficient to earn the CCA seal of approval.

And, while some people forget, comics are a business, and most businesses look for ways to increase their exposure and market share, often through assorted gimmicks (*cough*), and by latching on to current trends. Sometimes the Big Two did that within the pages of their regular comics, working to push the boundaries of their medium, as with the O’Neal/Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow in which Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy is revealed to be a drug addict – which is, of course, relevant to the comic we’ll eventually talk about – but while there was value in improving their existing products by exploring real-world issues, that didn’t always move the needle when it came to increasing sales and getting more eyes on pages.

So, in addition to the work they did within the pages of their regular books, Marvel and DC often partnered with other businesses and federal agencies to produce special editions that were often distributed to potential new readers via schools, using their recognizable characters to drive home a particular message. 

The earliest such Public Service Announcement comic I remember receiving in school featured Captain America teaming up with the Campbell Kids (as in Campbell Soup) to promote energy conservation. While somewhat informative, it…wasn’t good, nor was it particularly memorable or worthy of nostalgia.

Some time later, however, DC, partnering with Keebler, put out the PSA comic we’re here to discuss, featuring the characters from one of the hottest comics of the era taking up arms in America’s War on Drugs, with a little help from First Lady Nancy Reagan.

What makes this comic stand out from the crowd is that it was produced by the creative team behind the regular New Teen Titans comic, which, to be honest, was often extremely heavy-handed when delivering a “message” at the best of times, so despite some differences – which we’ll get to – it was almost indistinguishable from a comic you might plunk down $.75 for at the newsstand.

Almost.

In fact, not long before this comic made its appearance at schools across the country, there had been an arc in NTT that could have been pretty easily recycled and used as a PSA, although it would have required jettisoning some of the long-running story elements and sub-plots, such as the ongoing journey of Adrian Chase from being a suit-wearing Manhattan DA and family man to being the costumed, gun-toting Vigilante, and Dick Grayson’s struggle to get out from under the shadow of the Bat and find his own identity and destiny as a hero in his own right rather than as a sidekick.

Speaking of the Teen Wonder and leader of the Titans, Robin doesn’t make an appearance in this comic, or in any of the sequels, and is instead replaced by a rather generic new character called The Protector, who would later be added to canon in the regular comics, though I don’t recall ever seeing him anywhere other than in the 1987 update to Who’s Who in the DC Universe.

For one thing, by that time Dick had hung up his pixie boots and was no longer Robin, and had yet to settle on a new costumed identity.

Deleted scene.

For another, the licensing rights to Robin were then held by Nabisco.

(As an aside, some time before the comic was released to schools, I saw an item about it on the news, and when I saw him in the group shot from the back cover, I thought that The Protector might be the debut of Dick’s new costume and identity.)

The inside cover of the comic features a letter from Mrs. Reagan, and on the first page we get the first of several “confessional” pages, featuring a young girl named Debbie, who, despite her tender age, has been using drugs – she provides a long laundry list of the drugs she’s used – for three years. We learn some of the – ideally relatable – reasons that she was tempted to try drugs in the first place, and how her use of drugs has negatively impacted her life.

While it’s kind of a standard feature – especially in the era of “Reality TV” – I do kind of wonder if Tom King was at least somewhat inspired by this comic when crafting his confessionals for Heroes In Crisis, especially since Roy “Speedy” Harper has a confessional scene here, just as he does in HIC.

From there, we move on to the action, as the Titans bust up a drug distribution center, and we learn that Protector – Pro, as his friends call him – was invited along specifically for this mission. (Despite the occasional asides about his backstory, it’s pretty clear that Protector was originally written as Robin, especially given that the team defers to him as the leader, despite him just being a guest. I actually suspect Robin was physically in the comic and then just drawn over, as his combat moves are pretty much identical to Robin’s.)

After beating the snot out of the drug dealers, Raven has a bit of a freakout – Has she gone rogue and decided to try some of the product? – and the team determines the cause: a young, panicked boy hiding in the warehouse has overdosed, and Raven’s empathic abilities caused her to be overcome by his emotional state. The Titans get the boy to the hospital, but it’s too late.

However, it may not be too late for Debbie from the first page, who is also in the hospital after an OD. The boy who died was a friend of Debbie’s, and when her parents come to talk to the doctor about the boy and about Debbie’s chances, they meet up with the Titans.

The Titans then have an encounter with some of Debbie’s other druggie friends – including Anna, the sister of the boy who died – and decide that they really need to step up their game when it comes to tackling the part of the drug epidemic that they can handle. Namely, beating the snot out of drug dealers.

Donna, did you…did you just drive your fist through that man’s chest?

The rest, however, is up to the kids and their families, and while they have suggestions for things that can be done – using love and understanding, mostly – all they can really do is hope.

While the Titans tackle the drug distribution infrastructure, Anna shows up at her brother’s funeral high, but her parents harness the power of love and understanding, and decides to stop being a dope and give up on drugs, as does Debbie, after she comes out of her coma, and the rest of Debbie’s friends, inspired by these examples, and by the Titans, decide to do the same.

The comic is rounded out by various activities that the readers can engage in, such as visualizing the kind of futures they want to have, futures that would be impossible to attain if you give in to the allure of drugs, and others that reinforce a more general sense of responsibility. (These activities are presented by Ernie, the Keebler Elf.)

I didn’t get the two sequel comics when I was in school, and didn’t actually know they existed until relatively recently, but I remember being very excited about getting this one – I snagged multiple copies, as our tiny school got a lot more than we could ever possibly need – because hey, a free comic, that I’m supposed to read at school featuring one of my favorite super-teams, by one of my favorite creative teams. What’s not to be excited about?

The Titans were an ideal fit for tackling this subject, as they were within the same age cohort as the target audience, one of their own was a recovering addict, and the often heavy-handed, message-heavy nature of their regular series was rarely all that different from an earnest PSA comic anyway. (Don’t get me wrong; I loved the Titans – and even going back and rereading the old comics, I still do – but for all of their many strengths, such as fantastic art, compelling and complex storylines, and strong characterization, the comics were set at a level of earnestness that was several degrees beyond painful, and the morality plays at their core were anything but subtle.)

While there is much about this comic that is laughable and the message was in many ways simplistic, and with hindsight – though many of us saw it at the time – we’ve seen how the War on Drugs has been racist in its application and has been an expensive boondoggle that has in many ways weakened our democracy, it’s an interesting artifact of a bygone era, and one that towers above other examples.

For one thing, it presents a sympathetic and understanding view of kids who are drawn to drug use. The message isn’t “Users Are Losers” so much as it’s “Users are People…and people make mistakes and also life is complicated.” For another, while it doesn’t necessarily provide the most accurate view of drug use – or the typical behaviors of users – and reinforces the myth of pot as a “gateway drug,” it doesn’t give in to full-on Reefer Madness-style fearmongering either.

And beyond that, it features art by one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, with inks by the late, great Dick Giordano.

At the time, I also appreciated that it didn’t really dumb things down the way comics-related material designed for a non-reader mass market often was. There were stakes. People died. There were hard-hitting battles. This wasn’t some Saturday morning cartoon goofiness.

That said, some concessions made. The two big things that was most noticeable to a Titans fan, particularly one for whom puberty was well underway, was that Starfire was drawn in a much more modest fashion, in terms of her costume design, which featured a closed, cleavage-free front, and in the size of her assets.

And while never shown to be quite as busty as her buxom BFF, Wonder Girl was scaled down a bit as well.

That reminds me of another change to the lineup. In addition to the lack of Robin and the presence of Speedy – who, at the time, was not a regular member of the team – Terra was not featured in this, though that makes sense, given the nature of the character. She comes to mind mostly because of her tendency to make snarky comments about Starfire’s figure – she often referred to her as “balloon bod” – which would have been out of place (and inaccurate) here.

Similarly, Changeling’s general skeeviness was mostly absent, with the only sop to it being a singular instance of him referring to Wonder Girl as “gorgeous” rather than using her name.

It’s been a long time since I was in school, so I’m not sure if these sorts of PSA comics are still a thing. As mentioned, I never got any of the other Titans comics, and beyond that aforementioned Captain America comic, the only other one I ever got was one with Supergirl talking about the importance of seat belts when I was in high school. Other than that, I’ve only encountered the non-PSA comic-length ads for business, such as the ones from Radio Shack featuring Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up with the TRS-80 Whiz Kids.

However, in this, the Golden Age of Television, “Very Special Episodes” are fairly uncommon, so I imagine it’s likely that its time has long passed. Still, this was an entertaining trip down Nostalgia lane, and one that has inspired this Very Special™ Spotlight Sunday.

What makes it so special? Stuff! That you can win!

Use the form below to enter the first-ever OpenDoor Comics prize giveaway for your chance to win:

Your very own copy of The New Teen Titans: Plague!

A one-of-a-kind print of the “Deleted Scene” image above, defaced signed by the artist! Suitable for framing and/or recycling!

An OpenDoor Comics T-shirt, suitable for wearing, or wiping the sweat from your brow after you angrily toss that print in the recycling bin!

To improve your chances of winning, do what drug users do: utilize peer pressure! You can earn extra entries by referring a friend! 

The OpenDoor Comics Peer Pressure Prize Sweepstakes runs until Saturday, December 8th, so don’t delay!

The OpenDoor Comics Peer Pressure Prize Sweepstakes

This sweepstakes has ended.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 11.18.18

While there were several options to choose from, with the arrival of the end, there are spoilers ahead for…

Cover A by Nick Derrington
Cover B by Mitch Gerads

Mister Miracle #12
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derrington
Variant Cover: Mitch Gerads
Rated M
$3.99
DC

“I can always escape.”

I meant to get around to taking a look at Plastic Man upon the arrival of its final issue, and this week I managed to pick up The Green Lantern. There’s also the promising start to renowned writer G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman that is worth of consideration – particularly given that DC is finally doing what I’ve been saying they need to do for a long time and having a woman write it – and I kind of hate to admit how much (despite the inevitable annoyances) I’m enjoying the Bendis run on Superman.

I could have picked any of those, but I still would havehad to write about this as the last remaining Bonus feature from the old days. In the interest of laziness, I opted to just focus on this one issue.

It was good. The end.

Okay, fine, I won’t get that lazy about it.

The ending that we’ve been waiting for/dreading has arrived for Mister Miracle. It’s been a long, glorious, game-changing run, filled with twists and turns and gut-wrenching cosmic and personal turmoil.

Can you spot all the celebrity – and in some cases “celebrity” – cameos?

So how does it end? Well…it doesn’t. Not really.

Sure, the book will not continue – though the last page’s teaser text speaks of other things to come – but the story, like life, has no conclusive ending.

A life may end, but life goes on.

Last issue found Scott and Barda adding a “not” to “Darkseid is,” and Metron appearing to inform Scott that, as Scott himself knew, and we suspected, he is not where he belongs, and showing him a glimpse of his real home.

Yet this issue opens with Scott going on about his life as if that never happened, with the only significant change being his decision to shave his beard.

The question of where Scott is, if he’s not where he belongs, remains ambiguous, but one thing remains clear: he did not escape from death back when this whole thing got started.

Is he in hell? The ghost of Bug seems to think so.

Is he in heaven? Orion’s ghost would have us believe that, and that being in heaven is worse than being in hell.

Scott just plain does not give a shit what the ghost of his father tells him.

It’s Oberon’s ghost that he pays attention to, leading Scott to decide that wherever he is, he’s with Barda, and their son, and the daughter who’s on the way, and it’s where he belongs. At least for now.

After all, he can always escape.

(Or can he?)

Everybody Loves Barda.

As annoying as it may seem, such an ambiguous ending is a good fit for a series that has been less about the plot and more about the moments that make the plot a story. I said early on in my first Spotlight post about the book that the story is, essentially, only part of the story, that the real value of the book is in experiencing it. I could tell you, in meticulous detail, everything that happens in it, and while you might think “That sounds cool!” or “Hard pass,” and any reaction in between, you wouldn’t really get it until you hold the book in your hands – as a physical book or a digital version – so I’ll sum things up by encouraging you to do just that, either by picking up the individual issues, or by grabbing the trade when it comes out in January (ideally doing so via a link I’ll provide when the time comes).

Mister Miracle has been one of the best comics I’ve read in decades, and it deserves all the praise it receives, so I’ll close out by extending a heartfelt congratulations – and thank you – for this stunning achievement to Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Nick Derrington, Clayton Cowles, DC Comics, and, of course, The King.

So…What Were the Other Options?

Catwoman #5
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TPB
Domino #8
Electric Warriors #1
Exiles #10
The Green Lantern #1
House of Whispers #3
Plastic Man #6
Superman #5
Thor #7
Wonder Woman #58

Stan Lee 1922 – 2018

We lost a legend last week, in many senses of the word.While Stan’s legacy is complex, there is no question that it is significant. Stan left his mark. As I saw someone say on Twitter, he may get more credit than he deserves, but deserves credit for more than most people could ever dream of.

He was Stan Lee, and to much of the world he was comics.

‘nuff said.

Recommended Reading

Excelsior!

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Spotlight Sunday 11.11.18

Hitting the shop several days after New Comic Book Day means there are spoilers ahead for…

The Wicked + The Divine: The Funnies #1
Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Cover: Jamie McKelvie
Variant Cover: Margaux Saltel
Rated M
$3.99
Image

“We also asked Chip.”

If things had gone according to plan, you’d most likely be reading about The Green Lantern #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, which I had planned to pick up even though I don’t normally read any GL titles, because, well, it’s by Morrison and Sharp.

Things didn’t go as planned, however, as I didn’t get to the shop until yesterday, by which time they were completely sold out.

Which doesn’t suggest that this WicDiv special is an inferior second choice, it’s just not what I anticipated choosing.

With the final arc of the series coming up and a little bit of space to fill, the creative team decided to release a one-shot special, and as the previous specials had filled in all of the relevant history, they opted to go with something fun, and that would make fun of them.

And so, as is explained in an opening foreword, they asked some of their talented friends – and Chip Zdarsky – to contribute some lighthearted tales.

Most of the very short stories are written in a very knowing fashion that toys with the actual story told so far in the regular series while also gently – or not-so gently – ribbing the creators behind theseries. The Pantheon in “13 Go Mad in Wiltshire,” by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris, which places the young gods in something of a Scooby Doo milieu, is especially adept at combining the conceit of the parody with the details of the story its parodying. It also features the young gods travelling in a tour vehicle styled after The Mystery Machine known as “The Vantheon.”

If you’re not a WicDiv reader, most of the in-jokes won’t mean much to you, though in fairness it seems as though there are a lot of in-jokes that only the people involved would understand, so I’m not going to dive in and talk through each one, but there are some highlights that even those unfamiliar with the book can appreciate.

In particular, the opening story, “The Wicked + The Canine,” by Kieron Gillen and Erica Henderson will appeal to dog lovers, while also providing a mounting sense of horror as the story unfolds. As with the regular book, Ananke is there to tell us – although not in an entirely honest fashion – what’s going on.

With their time on Earth at an end, Ananke ensures the good dogs that they will go to “Doggy Heaven,” which is on the other side of a river, and to get there, they have to all climb into a big sack. And they each have to hold a brick. You know, for momentum.

But hey, don’t get too worried. After all…

I especially liked the Buzzfeed listicle-style “5 Things Everyone Who’s Lived With Sakhmet Will Understand,” by Hamish Steele.

Chip went a bit meta with his story, “The Lost God,” which finds a pair of failed musicians in Pittsburgh viewing the news of the return of the gods, with one of the members realizing that he’s part of the Pantheon. Before this unlikely god can make his way to London to join up with the others, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie – presented here as something of a soccer hooligan – show up to deliver the bad news. This other god isn’t quite on-brand, and doesn’t match the stylistic preferences of Kieron, who fancies himself something of a tastemaker and trendsetter. Kieron delivers the requisite finger snap, though it doesn’t quite have the traditional explosive effect. Still, as a signal to Jamie to beat the piss out of the man, it’s reasonably effective, although it does leave one loose end.

I’ve grown fairly tired of origin stories lately, especially when they’re origin stories for mundane things – one of the worst offenders in recent memory was on season two of Jessica Jones in which we got “The Secret Origin of How Jessica Got Her Leather Jacket” – but the origin story that closes out this issue is an important one that had to be told.

We find pre-godhood Laura (Persephone) standing on a street corner getting increasingly annoyed as she looks at Kieron Gillen’s Twitter feed, filled with his truly awful puns, and we see the inevitable result.

We’ve all been there, Laura.

Like I said, this isn’t a comic for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun if you’re a WicDiv fan, which I haven’t spoiled for you here.

There are stories by a bunch of very talented people.

There’s also a story by Chip.

If you’re a fan of WicDiv, check it out. If you’re not a fan of WicDiv, rectify that, then check this out.

And? Did You Buy Anything Else?

I did. Here’s the list.

Adventures of the Super Sons #4
Asgardians of the Galaxy #3
The Dreaming #3

Recommended Reading

I mean, it should be pretty obvious…

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Be sure to come back next week to see what it shines upon.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Bonus gratuitous dog picture.

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.