Tag Archives: Booster Gold

Reading Flashpoint: Three Lessons Learned From A Brand-Wide Comic Event

Most people probably know that DC cancelled all of its titles in September of 2011 and launched 52 #1 issues of their “New 52” brand. I say most people because it was a pretty big deal at the time. While some of their books like Detective Comics retained their number since the first issue was released in 1939, no company had ever done something so drastic as this  before.

What is less well-known is that the relaunch is actually an in-continuity timeline change that followed the company-wide “Flashpoint” event before the New 52 launched. Which means that while DC reset their book numbers they, technically, are working off the same kind of continuity reset that they did during Crisis On Infinite Earths. For the layman, that means we should think of the New 52 like a sequel to what came before instead of a reboot. All the old stuff that was canon before can still be considered so… but as part of an alternate timeline. It’s a subtle difference, but important for a couple reasons.

Continuity Is An Excuse 

My biggest complaint about modern comics is how ridiculous the continuity is. Since 1985 DC has had four universe-altering events that changed the history of their characters. That doesn’t include all of the ridiculous crossovers (Crisis On Two Earths), cameos and smaller events (Death Of Superman). That minor distinction was important considering that the New 52 came with five years of history. Most of what had happened to the characters in the previous timeline still occurred in one form or another.

So despite the reset there’s still continuity.

And after reading Flashpoint, continuity feels like an excuse to make you pay for pieces of a story. The Flashpoint event consists of 5 main titles of the same name, but it also has more than 50 tie-in comics. All together, there are 60 books in the entire event:

  • Abin Sur (3 issues)
  • Batman: Knight Of Vengeance (3 Issues)
  • Booster Gold (4 Issues)
  • Citizen Cold (3 Issues)
  • Deadman & the Flying Graysons (3 Issues)
  • Deathstroke & the Curse Of The Ravager (3 Issues)
  • Emperor Aquaman (3 Issues)
  • Flashpoint (5 Issues)
  • Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown (3 Issues)
  • Green Arrow Industries (1 Issue)
  • Grodd of War (1 Issue)
  • Hal Jordan (3 Issues)
  • Kid Flash Lost (3 Issues)
  • Legion of Doom (3 Issues)
  • Lois Lane & the Resistance (3 Issues)
  • Project Superman (3 Issues)
  • Reverse Flash (1 Issue)
  • Secret 7 (3 Issues)
  • Canterbury Cricket (1 Issue)
  • The Outsider (3 Issues)
  • The World of Flashpoint (3 Issues)
  • Wonder Woman & the Furies (3 Issues)

Sometimes you need to see it all written out. Many books of varying quality. And I will grant you, a lot of this stuff isn’t central to the main story. Comics like Hal Jordan, a what if to demonstrate how much things have changed, are pretty optional. There’s really only one key plot point in the book while the rest is context. And others, like Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown and Canterbury Cricket are wholly unnecessarily and pretty poorly written to boot.

But a lot of these are essential and read as if they are missing chapters from the main story.

ToBeContinued

Here Wonder Woman discovered a plot between her aunt and Aquaman’s half brother that caused their two peoples to go to war. Now she’s running off to do something, but as you can see, you need to read the third issue of another book to find out what. This isn’t a small plot point. It’s not a throwaway moment. It’s a good example of why it’s so hard for amateurs to get into the big titles. Even if you only like one book, eventually there will be a crossover or event that forces you to read a bunch of different books or miss what’s happening.

Reading all of these makes it feel like you are paying for the story by chapter, which I suppose you are since that is the nature of comics. But it’s so self-referential and complicated to get one story from all these books at a combined cost of between $100-$300.

Even ignoring the cost, just figuring out what goes where is a total b****. Last spring I tried to read Countdown to Final Crisis, which was a prequel company-wide event to a forthcoming company-wide event, with over 100 books of various numbers. I actually had to research it beforehand and, I s*** you not, draw a flow chart to understand what to read. Once you figure it out, a lot of these could have most of their pages put in a sequential order that would work as a single, mass tome, but even the graphic novels have to be organized by kind.

Quality Control Is A Absent

Some of these books are absolute garbage. Obviously the main title, Flashpoint, is pretty solid and the art for Wonder Woman & The Furies #1 is absolutely gorgeous. Superman and Batman’s books are excellent, but the rest is so too inconsistent from a premier comic book business.

As an example, Booster Gold features a women named Alex. In issue #47 she and Booster Gold are captured by the army and in the span of 3 pages she experiences a seemingly random costume change.

 

LongSleeves

First she has long sleeves.

 

NoSleeves

Then she has no sleeves.

 

ShortSleeves

It’s cool though. She alternates a couple times and then settles on short sleeves.

What the hell? This is within 5 pages of each other in the same book. I get when different books doing the same scene have different art, but the same art team on the same book? Why? And this happens ALL OVER.

The Dialogue Is Awful

Something that really bugs me is that the dialogue feels hokey and out of place. Granted, this is a subjective area, but look at some of these and tell me I’m wrong.

Brain drain? That was your best insult? brain drain?

Brain drain? Your go to insult is brain drain?

 

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

 

 Ozzyreference

Aside from using “thrashing” to describe listening to music and the flippant use of “old farts”, I’m pretty sure that’s an Ozzy Osbourne reference more than two decades out of date. The writer, Scott Kolins, is 44. It’s cool that he was a child of the 70’s, but was it too hard to ask his kids for a contemporary artist? Yes, it’s possible that this guy, who’s name escapes me, may just be an Ozzy fan, but it’s not believable and I’m assuming most kids that read these books won’t know who he is. Actually, do kids still read comics?

Whatever. Moving on.

PlaneSpeed

That is Hal Jordan asking someone how fast his plane goes. I’m not an aircraft expert, but I expect a pilot to have some idea how fast his own plane can go before he gets into it. And the “gigahertz and nanoseconds” comment makes him sound like he’s trying not to be smart. If you can fly a supersonic jet you can, hopefully, do some math too. I fully expect him to ask “where are the brakes on this thing?” after reading this. No wonder he crashes his plane in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

Lessons

Yes, there’s some wiggle room here since comic books are the first pay-as-you-go form of entertainment, but it’s not about the observed problems as much as what we learn about DC. First, I have no idea how much money it costs to organize, create, produce and distribute a company-wide event, but it feels like a lot of money that’s going into a very niche form of entertainment. It doesn’t have to be niche, but the interconnected nature of the titles, ridiculous continuity and prohibitive cost make it so.

Now extrapolate that. Since 2006 I’m pretty sure DC has had somewhere between 4-6 company-wide events depending on how you count the Green Lantern craziness that ended in Brightest Day. Who can keep track of all those stories? The funny thing is that it’s so complicated it’s kind of brilliant. All these stories do come together by the end which is a real accomplishment. A very exclusive accomplishment.

Second, I’m not surprised DC properties haven’t been able to tie together a unified movie universe. Launching a brand-wide comic event is way smaller and it’s not a great experience unless your a die-hard fan. Actually, that’s a guess. Maybe die-hard fans didn’t have so much fun with this either.

There has to be a better way, right? Or am I just complaining about the necessary evils of the comic book industry?

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Comic Book Movies: Marvel’s Future Looks Bright, DC’s Looks Dim

Pardon me whilst I rant for a moment.

So what does DC have now that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is done? Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel? A Justice League movie? That seems to be about it. What does Marvel have? Sequels to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, plus a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Advantage: Marvel.

Even though I’m hopeful for the new Superman film (due to Snyder directing, Nolan producing, and the amazing cast it has), I’m still quite fearful for DC. Their Wonder Woman show didn’t even make it off the ground, their Flash movie is constantly stuck in limbo, and Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max is never going to happen. And let’s not forget the bomb that was Green Lantern. Yeah, they’re not exactly knocking ’em outta the park. They have plans for Hawkman and Aquaman movies, and there are even rumors that they may even reboot Batman AGAIN, but they probably won’t happen until the Justice League movie gets released, which may or may not ever happen. Other than Man of Steel, the only thing they really have going for them is Arrow on the CW, and honestly that’s only there to fill the void that Smallville left when it ended its 10-season run. Not that I think it will or anything.

DC has really got to step-up their game in order to catch up with Marvel. Now, I know that Nolan’s Batman trilogy has made billions of dollars, and those movies are pretty much three of the greatest comic book adaptations ever made, but seriously, that’s only one character. Marvel is having major success with multiple characters. The Avengers (in solo and joint films) are kicking ass and taking names in the box office and there’s only more success to come. As I mentioned, all the sequels, as well as an Ant-Man film, and a Daredevil reboot should be in the works sometime soon thanks to film rights reverting back to Marvel from FOX. There’s even a new Hulk television series in the works, as well as AKA Jessica Jones, Mockingbird, Cloak and Dagger, and The Punisher. Advantage: Marvel.

I know some of you reading this are gonna say, “Well Marvel has made some crappy films! Ever heard of Ghost Rider?” Yes I have. But Ghost Rider, as well as its sequel, came from FOX. As did X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Wolverine Origins. Spider-man 3 came from Sony and I believe Blade: The Series came from New Line. See what I’m saying here. Marvel Studios makes the good stuff, that’s who I’m talking about. The actual crap-tastic films have come from other studios. Once Marvel decided to go into the film production business for themselves, things got better. And it didn’t hurt that they were bought by Disney and now have their backing. But I’m not saying DC should step away from Warner Bros. and start producing their own stuff, although it is an idea.

What I’m saying (and I realize that I haven’t actually pointed this out yet) is that DC needs to stop trying to do things the Marvel way. They don’t need to make a Justice League film right now, they just need to make better movies. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises were all steps in the right direction. Man of Steel might be as well. And a few solid steps are all you need to get off and running, but don’t rush and trip up. Start working with better directors and writers, cast your characters properly, keep things smart and realistic (or as realistic as you possibly can),  and stay true to the comics (solid stories have already been written, you just have to look for them). This is all DC has to do and [most] fans will be happy. [Editor’s note: Die-hard fans can never be pleased. NEVER.] Get to work on The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman movies. Don’t worry about rebooting Batman for a long time. And if Christian Bale won’t play him in the Justice League movie, get someone else who will do him justice [pun intended]. But don’t worry about his backstory, I think by now we’ve got that part figured out.

I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t want to see a movie about these two? [image property: DC Comics]

Stop worrying about quantity and start worrying about quality, DC. Once you do that, the money will just roll in. Sure Marvel has a good lead on you, but that’ll happen when your only opposition is sitting with their heads up their butts, waiting for a miracle to happen. Well your miracle happened, his name is Christopher Nolan. Follow his example, make better comic book movies, and stop screwing around.

And would it kill you to make a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle flick?

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