WLG #370: An Airport Cantina Stack

A column article by: Chris Murman

I come to you fine readers from the friendly confines of a Pappasito’s in the DFW airport. I just spent my entire flight from Abilene to DFW catching up on my comic reading and am ready to deliver the goods. It’s the last (I’ve gotten the confirmation) business trip for me for a long, long time. One last training session in Alabama and I will have successfully transitioned to my new project that requires zero travel.

Then I can just sit back, wait for my son to be born, and watch the magic happen. Can’t wait.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying some extended time with my family and vacationing. Of course, when you have a two year old and one on the way, time with the family doesn’t leave a lot of time for movies. I caught Super 8 with Karyn on a date night a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty enjoyable for being a date-night movie. Since I have three weeks on the road, I’ll be catching more. Let me know which ones to avoid. There are a few I am sure I shouldn’t waste my time and money on, but business trips were sort of made for wasting time and money.

No big rants this week, just thought I would be mellow as I settle in to watch some of the World Cup Final (note: I got off the plane to learn that the US lost on penalty kicks. Did not see that coming). Let’s move on to this week’s stack. Hopefully by now you all remember my rating system so I will spare you the same cut-and-paste description. Here’s what I think looks good this week.

KNOW: DC Retroactive: Batman the 70’s #1 (Len Wein/DC)

Many of my fellow Interweb scribes have taken their shots at DC over the past couple months (I even took one of two), but I’ve taken shots at the publisher for decades. As a huge fan of their intellectual properties, I reserve the right to disagree with editorial decisions made. That said, this new Retroactive series that is upon us is one of the more creative and ingenious decisions I’ve seen in a while. As a matter of fact, their current crossover series is giving me new Elseworlds tales every week as well. Overall, I’m happy.

August will probably change all that, because the 52 #1-issues-in-a-month idea is not great for local stores (regardless of what the publisher says). That’s a few weeks away, though. For now, I’m a happy man.

The idea of doing new stories based upon characters in previous incarnations makes me want to buy every single one of these. At five bucks a pop, I probably can’t afford to, but the writers and characters I adore most will definitely receive top-of-the-stack status. Enter Len Wein and the campy Batman from the 70s.

What I am interested in seeing, is how writers (even veterans who worked in the decades revisited) take current writing trends and styles to work with 20, 30 and 40-year-old-characters. It will be an interesting exercise in dialogue comparison, and I’m sure it was a blast for the creators who got to stretch a bit for these stories.

KNOW: War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #1 (Tony Bedard/Miguel Sepulveda/DC)

Words cannot describe the feeling I got from reading the final page to Green Lantern #67 today. As the final issue in a run of kicking Kyle Rayner fans in the ding-ding, let me publicly thank Geoff Johns for giving me more joy in two pages than the previous 1,472 combined.

Yes, you can all poke holes in my happiness because of my dislike for both the writer and character heading this title. It’s deserved, but I don’t care. I give my three bucks dutifully so I’m due my pound of flesh. Even as a comic book character, it pained me to see Jordan run around with unbridled impunity and do whatever he wanted without repercussions. The chickens came home to roost this past week for our flyboy in a big way.

All along, I had worried that the end of War of the Green Lanterns would result in the original Guardians going away and the reign of Jordan’s Law continuing. Imagine the squees I let loose on my flight when I saw the Oans take their ball and going home, complete with Sinestro wearing a green ring. Just like seeing Lex Luthor be the star of Action Comics for a year, Sinestro staring in GL will be some of my favorite purchases ever.

I feel for John Stewart in the wake of his destruction of Mogo, it seems like he’s settled into the punching-bag role Kyle played for so long in the Geoff Johns era. Hopefully, we can see his character really grow from this and focus his efforts on ring-slinging more than moping about.

THINK: Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave TPB (Gail Simone/Horacio Dominguez/DC)

Sadly, I did not catch every single issue of this series when it was originally printed. From what I read in the first couple of issues, this story arc did not measure up quite to the level I saw this title achieve during its first run, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Gail Simone showed me a new side of her talent with the characters of Tranquility.

In her work at DC, Simone hasn’t always worked on characters I have any desire in reading. I’m sort of old school in my buying choices: I don’t normally follow the hot creative teams. I have my characters I’m interested in; if a great team does a good job I keep buying. If they don’t, I take a break from my favorites and try some indie books. Simone’s work during Infinite Crisis was stellar, but I did not follow her to Secret Six after the first couple of issues because I had no connection to those characters.

With Tranquility, I came in fresh and loved their candor. I should be able to do that with established characters for the Big Two, but unfortunately I don’t. I’m a broken vessel, and I’m okay with it.

LOEB: Elephantmen #33 (Richard Starkings/Shaky Kane/Image

Speaking of characters I have grown to love over the years, it pains me greatly to see what they have become over the past year of issues under First Tiger Rich.

I don’t rail against the series much because I still have great respect and affinity for the man. He gave me a ton of great quotes, and even printed a few of my reviews in his issues. The fact remains, however, that since he made the decision to go more “mature” in the direction of this title, the quality has gone down in story.

I blame Moritat. Well, not really, but since his health issues and subsequent work with DC things have slowly devolved on this title. Instead of exploring more about the mysterious Elephantmen, we’ve just seen naked women throwing themselves at Hip and the rest. While I’m sure many readers enjoy the gratuitous nudity on display, it is an embarrassment to me as a reader.

At one point, I would gladly show off whatever issue I had to get Starkings another fan to buy his great work. With issue #32, I'm hiding some of the pages from the people around me on the plane. I could only imagine the looks the old lady sitting next to me would have offered had she seen these depictions of women.

Please stop Richard. Yes, I’m using your full name. This is my serious face, knock it off.

THINK: Daredevil #1 (Mark Waid/Paolo Manuel Rivera/Marvel)

I have no idea why they felt the need to start this series over with a new #1, but that’s apparently in these days so I guess I can let that go. I love Mark Waid, and I love that he’s back at Marvel showing them how to write great scripts.

It’s always the same story when a new team is brought on to construct a Matt Murdock story: are they going to put genies back in bottles or are they going to continue doing damage control on a character that used his last chance up several chances ago. Bendis and Brubaker managed to tell the latter tale beautifully. Diggle came up with a brilliant idea that just didn’t execute successfully.

Nevertheless, they have all tried to work with the constraints of previous editorial decisions and work with what they have. Part of me wonders if a new #1 means that is going to change.

As always, I’m all in with Matt Murdock. We’ll see if things change or just remain the same with him.

LOEB: Misadventures of Adam West #1 (Reed Lackey/Russell Dauterman/Bluewater)

A publisher that makes its bones on the backs of celebrities is at it again, this time with the punny Adam West gracing a cover. The solicitation copy is too good to pass this time around so I’m going to let it speak for itself:

The Man, The Myth, The Amulet? Legendary star of the small and silver screen, Adam West, has his career youth-enized in this hip-whimsical, trans-dimensional epic of an adventure. When a mysterious fan delivers an exotic amulet to Mr. West's doorstep he is Dorothy-fied on an odyssey (note: this word was misspelled on the original copy) that will change his career, his love life and, inadvertently, make him the man that saves the universe!

Now you know why I got out of the advertising biz: I can’t even make crap like that up. Wow, I can’t wait to plop down my four bucks and amuse myself with this. Part of me wonders why celebrities agreed to have their likenesses used by this publisher, but then I remember that they are narcissistic check-cashers just like the rest of us.

If Bluewater Productions wants to use me in a story, please email me. Not sure my likeness will move that many issues, but I have 30 followers on Twitter and a boatload of family. Is that enough?

THINK: Alphas (Season 1/Episode 2/Syfy)

The first episode managed to pull me in with something I wasn’t expecting. Instead of leaving viewers with a strong sense of attachment to the cadre of characters and the abilities they possess, I was drawn to the plot we will most likely see play out over the course of the series.

That’s not to say I have no interest in the team of superheroes. I appreciate that each has their own psychological problems that limit them outside of their powers. Even their powers have limits. It shows at least a nod in the direction of intelligent writing. Maybe Syfy has had enough holes in their series blown by nerds around the globe that they are learning from their mistakes.

*Cough* BattlestarGallacticaFinale *Cough*

KNOW: Suits (Season 1/Episode 5/USA)

Speaking of series that came out of nowhere, I have been blown away by how much I like this show more than Franklin and Bash. Sure, the two lead characters of F&B are intriguing and the network did a fantastic job of splicing the few brilliant moments of the first few episodes into one trailer for the series, but it’s not showing near enough legs as Suits.

I said it in a previous column, but Gabriel Macht is just magic in this role. I had a feeling he would slick his hair back and kick ass with the best of them.

Both cable lawyer shows managed to create great foils for the lead characters within the same office. What Suits did differently was create a secret that once the antagonist finds out will spell curtains for life as we know it.

F&B is a show about being able to work with anyone, regardless of how annoying you think they are. Suits is a story about what happens when you swing for the fences. Sometimes you hit it out of the park and others you strike out. I think we all know which show is going to make it longer. Then again, never underestimate the power of Zack Morris.

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