This week Diamond Comics shipped the paperback version of the classic JLA/AVENGERS saga. These came out in comic book form in 2003, but was only compiled in hardcover format for $75. Now we have a softcover at $19.99 and it is time to revisit this story.
I believed at the time that the entire concept was flawed. Kurt Busiek wrote a story in which every Avenger and every Justice Leaguer that ever existed made at least a token appearance. He succeeded in his mind, but not mine. By putting too many characters in a story, you lose the ability to focus deeply on any of them. Recall the series of Marvel/DC Crossover books. These stories usually had one hero and one villain from each universe and you had a real interaction among the heroes and villains. Remember Crossover One with a full Superman/Spider-Man story, Hulk/Superman, etc. You really got into how the characters reacted to each other. In Crossover 2 we had Batman/Punisher, Silver Surfer/Superman and Batman/Captain America. The other two books weren’t as good, but it is always fun to match heroes from different universes. In my opinion, confining the epic to 7 or so stars from each universe would have made things much less cluttered and a better read. Characters kept coming and going so quickly it is difficult to keep track.
The story itself starts as one of the generic contest of champions ideas we have seen a million times before. Mystic artifacts being sought by both sides being manipulated by cosmic beings. Ho-hum.
No real detail in the battles to get an artifact and the 12 items are quickly divided up. They we get a mish-mash of heroes from diferrent universes interacting in a confusing way and then A Crisis on Infinte Earths climax against the super-duper villian with everyone throwing in a few shots. Been to the Source, done that.
It was, I suppose, a noble effort and it is certainly a better buy at $20 rather than $75. But as the pundit said about Dicken’s Great Expectations, I hoped for more.
I wonder if there will be comics in our future. The reason for this is that it seems that no one wants to write comics anymore. No, what they want to write is the Great American Comic Novel.
As the proud owner of Phoenix Comics in beautiful Eastchester, New York (shameless plug), I have the great fortune, or misfortune, of reading just about everything that DC and Marvel publish. Back in the day, going back as far as 10 cent comics, a huge percentage of books were what we would call today, stand alone stories. Batman caught the bank robber, jewelry store heister, or murderer in one issue. Superman battled the evil monster and/or fooled Lois about his secret identity in one book. A two-issue story was a major event. Even as a youngster, I realized Superman was fighting a never ending battle against evil and we all moved on to the next story.
Starting with “The Death of Captain Marvel,” the first mainstream graphic novel, everyone seems to be writing 120-page comic novels and slicing them into six parts. Before the ink is dry on part six, the whole thing is published in a trade paperback. At least you had a good read on an airplane. But even that doesn’t seem to be enough.
Now we have continuing sagas that seem to go on forever: Crisis on Infinite Earths to Infinite Crisis to Identity Crisis to 52 to Countdown to Final Crisis to….? And don’t even start with all the tie-ins. When they hit Final Bar Mitzvah I quit. Of course the X-Men books have been doing this for years. They even put numbers on the spine so you can keep reading, and reading, and reading and the story line goes on forever. At my age I have to keep reading the books because I would hate to miss a possible ending. Some of my customers have given up and just read the trades as they come out.
Is this progress?
Back in the 1950s, also known as my misspent youth, the editors at DC Comics actually tried to answer all the “real life” questions that got tossed at their superheroes, particularly, Superman. Ignoring the fact that this isn’t real life in the first place, there were a million questions. As no one seemed to worry about continuity back then, a story was written that explained various things such as the following questions.
How did Superman cut his hair? Afterall, it was invulnerable, just like the rest of him. The answer is he used his heat vision reflected off a mirror. How he shaved they never got into.
Where did the supersuit come from? It had to be invulnerable because the bullets everyone always futilely shot at Supes bounced off it. If it wasn’t invulnerable, there would have been holes in the suit after the shot bounced off Superman. The answer was that Ma Kent sewed it from the blanket he was wrapped in when the ship that brought Superman to earth crashed. That, of course, begs the question of what kind of super needle she happened to have in her sewing kit. That’s neither her nor there at this point though.
And the glasses? I mean, was that all it took for anyone to not notice the resemblance between Clark and Superman? The answer is that one of Supes’ little know powers is super hypnotism and he used the glasses to focus it so that no one in the world would notice how much they looked alike. Believe me, I wish I was making this explanation up, but I am not. My colleague, David Torres, wonders what happens if Clark Kent loses the glasses.
Anyway, does anyone remember any more of these? Want to make up your own scenarios and answer them or have other readers answer them, leave your comments below!
In one of the latest issues of “Action Comics,” Clark Kent is asked whether he would consider laser surgery so he can get rid of his glasses. This got me thinking. In order for Clark Kent to hide his secret identity as Superman, he wears a pair of glasses. Over the past decade more and more people have been getting laser eye surgery to eliminate the need for eyeglasses. If things continue to go on like this and technology continues to improve, will no one in the world have to wear glasses? If so, what does it mean for Clark Kent? Does DC Comics have to find another way for Clark Kent to hide his identity? The removing of the glasses and the ripping open of the dress shirt to reveal the “S” on his costume is an iconic image for Superman. Will this hurt the character if he no longer wears glasses? Sounds silly? Maybe. Something to think about kids… feel free to leave your comments!
So what is to become of “Smallville”?
As a comic shop owner, I am in weekly contact with DC. Everytime I ask them for some good gossip I never get any. Advance word of All-Star Batman 10 would have been real nice. So even though the season is not even half over, we certainly can speculate.
Posted by David Torres Categories:
Many fans of Captain America have been waiting years for a big budget Captain America film. Shortly after the release and success of last year’s “Iron Man” film, Marvel Comics announced that we would also be seeing a film staring Thor, The Avengers, and Captain America. Like most comic book fans I’m worried. I’m worried it’s going to suck big time.
Almost no comic book movie is perfect. Very few have come close. I would say the first Donner/Reeve “Superman” film and the more recent “Iron Man” and “Dark Knight” have made nitty picky and overly critical fan boys (like myself) the most happy. What makes most comic fans cringe the most is when Hollywood decides to make changes to the character or the story. Sometimes it works like Richard Donner’s vision of Krypton. The “ice” was loved by the fans and the look has now been incorporated into current DC continuity thanks to Geoff Johns and Richard Donner himself who co-wrote the story “Last Son” for “Action Comics”.
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Posted by David Torres Categories:
Great start to this new storyline. I finished reading “New Krypton” right after I finished reading the latest issue of “Final Crisis” and it was like a breath of fresh air. I could actually understand what was going on and enjoy the story.
I haven’t enjoyed James Robinson’s run on “Superman” so far and I was going to drop it, but with this new storyline, I’ll be staying on. New Krypton will be going through the two main Superman titles as well as “Supergirl”. I’m not happy about collecting an extra series like Supergirl for this storyline and the foreseeable future as the Superman titles along with Supergirl will act together as one long ongoing storyline. For you newbies, this was also done during the 90s.
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