The Week In Ink: April 14, 2010

Amazingly enough, none of the monthly comics I picked up this week had a good solid kick to the face, which I guess is one of the hazards of cutting back my sub list when I quit the store. But fortunately for you, the cretinous loyal Week In Ink reader, I also got my hands on a copy of the new Fantagraphics collection of Basil Wolverton’s Culture Corner, a series of one-page instructional comics that includes the handy guide “How to Kick a Person In The Teeth”:

 

 

Now that faces have been properly booted, we can get on with another round of the Internet’s Most Needlessly Ritualistic Comics Reviews, but bear in mind: After reading, what I’m about to write about the Two Faces of Geoff Johns, there’s a good chance you might wish I’d taken the night off.

Here’s what I thought of a couple of this week’s titles!

 


 

Brightest Day #0: You know, I really hope that Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi take some time this weekend to sit down and write a Thank You note to James Robinson for being the one thing keeping them from being the guys who wrote the worst comic of the year. It’s just polite.

This is a terrible comic book. From the very first page–again, the first page of a book called Brightest Day–there’s a grotesquerie to it that is completely indistinguishable from someone doing a parody of what Warren Ellis called “Johns’s death-soaked shouting opuses.” Seriously, Brightest Day opens with a five-panel sequence of a baby bird bashing its head in on a tombstone and dying. There’s nothing I can possibly add to that, other than to say that while the name isn’t ever mentioned in the text, it’s all done as a setup for Deadman to move a step closer to his inevitable and groanworthy new role of “Lifeman,” and that in its own terrible way, it’s the perfect introduction for the rest of the book.

Because that’s what Brightest Day is: Pages upon pages of alarmingly stupid navel-gazing that underscores the fact that right now, with the exception of a few islands of good work, the DC Universe is experiencing a creative bankruptcy the likes of which the company has never seen. With this issue, a book that’s meant to set the tone for the DC Universe, Aquaman’s afraid to get in the water and the Flash tells someone he doesn’t want to run. They’ve gotten to the point where they’re not even telling stories anymore, they’re just showing people sitting around talking about things they used to do. And even that’s done wrong.

Take Firestorm. Johns and Tomasi make it clear that Ronnie Raymond is meant to be back from the dead from the moment he died in Identity Crisis. So why does he act like he did thirty years ago? Why did he ask where Professor Stein is, when Stein hadn’t been part of Firestorm for years at that point? Why does Ronnie, a recovering alcoholic, blow off Gehenna’s funeral to go to a kegger? And why, if the union between Jason and Ronnie is meant to be the new version of Firestorm, as seen on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, does Ronnie get control of the body? Well, I know the answer to that one: Because if Firestorm still had the body of a black man, he wouldn’t look like he did in 1978.

Beyond those problems, though, is the simple fact that Brightest Day is just poorly written. There’s a scene where Captain Boomerang talks about Shawshank Redemption in the vaguest, most Herb and Jamal-esque way possible, referring to it as “this film a few years back” before quoting its “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’” line in a scene that’s a lock for this year’s Eisner for Tritest Prison Conversation. And it gets worse: Hawkman plumbs the depths of explicitly stated melodrama with the line “I see all our ghosts–our past lives–they’re around us–reminding me that all this is… fleeting.” And then it gets even worse.

Here’s a brief re-enactment of me reading this comic:

 

 

“Oh my God, are they serious?”

 

 

“Oh my God, they are serious!”

 

It’s embarrassing, and the last thing it makes me want to do is read more.

 

The Flash #1: To promote the relaunch of the Flash, DC had house ads reading, completely without irony, “Barry Allen is back and it’s the worst thing that ever happened to him.” And brother, they ain’t lyin’.

I’ve come out pretty strongly before against the return of Barry Allen, and I think it’s pretty obvious why. There’s no reason whatsoever other than nostalgia to bring him back. His return was the only part of Final Crisis that I actually hated, and bringing him back not only undermines what was probably the best and most heroic death in comics (cheapening the cycle of death and resurrection in comics even more than it already is), but it devalues the work that creators like Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, and even Geoff Johns himself have done in making Wally West, if not better than Barry, then at least as good from a character standpoint as he ever was. It’s mind-boggling as to why anyone at DC wouldn’t want him back, or why they’d be willing to contort storylines into impenetrable continuity pretzels so that they could, in effect, get back the toy they played with as kids.

Needless to say, I wasn’t planning on picking up Flash, but hey: Free ring. And with all that said, I’ve got to admit: This is actually a really good comic.

That’s not too terribly surprising, I suppose; Johns did, after all, do some of his best work on the character, although that got tiresome at the end when he decided every aspect of every character had to tie into a one-note gimmick (Mirror Master does cocaine! OFF A MIRROR! DID THAT JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?!). Which, really, is what’s so frustrating about Johns: When he’s good, he’s great and when he’s bad, he’s abysmal, and it all stems from the exact same place and a very specific storytelling ideology he adheres to.

But here, he’s actually doing something fun. Even the title, “The Dastardly Death of the Rogues,” straddles that line between ridiculously self-referential and just goofy enough to get a genuine laugh, and the story, while it’s certainly hearkening back to stuff that’s been done before, has never quite been done in this sort of way, and never to this extreme. For the first issue, at least, this isn’t just a good story, but it’s very much the kind of bizarre Flash story that I really like.

A lot of the quality, though, has to do with artist Francis Manapul. Aside from a few of the costume redesigns, I loved his Legion of Super-Heroes work (which, ironically enough, was ended so that Johns and Brad Meltzer could have their cake with a pastiche of the late ’70s Legion), and he does a really great job here. There’s a sense of motion to his work (which is aided in no small part by colorist Brian Buccellato), and his take on all of Barry’s speed tricks is genuinely thrilling. He makes the Flash disassembling an entire car in mid-air while it jumps an unfinished bridge look exactly as cool as it ought to.

Plus, this page alone is just gorgeous:

 

 

It’s a great-looking comic that’s a lot of fun to read, but it’s not without its faults. For one thing, as much as I appreciate that the book hit the ground running (har har), I would’ve appreciated knowing why everyone was cool with Barry Allen coming back to life and having a secret identity, and why Iris wasn’t an old woman anymore, and maybe–just maybe–why he abandoned the kids that he has in the 31st century (which we know he has because his grandson, Bart Allen is back too). But that’s a minor dig on my part–I understand at least some of it was covered in Flash #0, which I skipped for the reasons laid out above–and it’s more than outweighed by an issue that actually feels like it has some momentum to it.

Far more problematic is the fact that, while the story around him is fun, Barry Allen has no discernible personality whatsoever. There are quirks–he’s always late! Boy, that sure was clever in 1954–but by and large, he’s a blank slate. Which means that as fun as this story is, there’s no reason for it to be about Barry Allen rather than Wally West, and we’re right back to where we started with the un-necessity of Barry Allen’s return. You could argue that this is only the first issue and that it needs time to develop, but there’s nothing more important for a first issue than establishing who these people are and why we need to care. Right now, we care because Geoff Johns cares, and for me, that’s not good enough.

But again: By and large, it’s a fun comic, and that buys an awful lot of leeway with me, and the only time I actually like admitting I’m wrong is when I read something that’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be, and this issue certainly qualifies there. I just wish it wasn’t a good comic mired in its own regressive storytelling.

 


 

And for me, that’s the week. I mean, sure, there were more comics, but I’ve already talked up Gillen and McKelvie’s Loki, and considering that I’m pretty sure I just murdered my chances of ever writing Jimmy Olsen or the Legion of Super-Heroes with those two reviews, I’m calling it a night. As always, if something caught your eye this week, then by all means, have at it in the comments below.

64 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: April 14, 2010

  1. Jason Aaron’s shoutout to Peter Freuchen, or maybe Wade Davis, in Punisher Max. (I read about it in Peter Freuchen first, but Davis wrote about it more recently in Discover. Both gentlemen are awesome.)

  2. Your next article should be your definitive “what’s wrong with Geoff Johns” column that encapsulates everything you find problematic with him, looking at his entire career rather than just one or two series. I’ve read very little of his work, and he’s such a polarizing figure, that I love to hear all sides of his fandom/detracterdom.

    That’s right, I said “detracterdom.”

  3. I forgot to grab the Flash, and yes, much eyerolling was had at Brightest Day’s use of it’s own title. I sort of liked Deadman floating around unseen by other people, because that’s what Deadman is. I can’t say I cared much about the other stories, aside from Aquaman and maybe Martian Manhunter a little. The Aquaman thing was just weird, I didn’t get it. Firestorm was downright depressing, but I’m sure they’ll have time to work that out over the next… 26 issues? Are they joking?

    I picked up The Unwritten for the first time this week. It surprised me in making me actually laugh out loud, my favourite book so far this week (buuuuuut I haven’t gotten to Punishermax or Chew or Daytripper or Secret Six yet).

  4. Oh, man. That second title drop image for Brightest Day is just… Wow. I can’t believe that’s not a Photoshop.

    I’m just going to go ahead and assume that Martian Manhunter was being sarcastic there. “Yeah. Sure, guy. That was certainly an apt way of saying it. I mean, I was going to try being subtle about it, but whatever.”

  5. Barry’s boss telling him what a jerk Mirror Master is was, by far, my favorite line of the week. Johns really does get the personality of the Flash mythos, and an entire year of the Rogues doing Rogueish things like that while Barry gradually cleans up Central City would get me back into his books faster than anything short of outright bribery.

    Which makes me even more bitter that they’re already setting up for the next Earth-Shattering Event featuring Johns’ pet character du jour. Flashpoint? “Even the Fastest Man Alive…will run out of time”? Aaaaaaaaaaaargh.

    Also, I want to take whatever letterer or editor keeps putting lines like “Brightest Day” or “The Rogues” in giant logo font, and kick him in the teeth in accordance with the rules set down by Mr. Wolverton. Dear God is it stupid-looking.

  6. I was hoping Johns would lean more towards Broomian and less toward Batesology when writing the Flash. This issue gave me some hope I was going to be right.

  7. I liked the way Johns used the last two pages of The Flash to preview a story…that’s not out until 2011. Really, it approaches the point of self-parody.

    Than again, if Andy Kubert’s drawing it, you’ll need that much lead time…and the book will still be late by what, the third issue?

  8. Thank you, Chris, for saying everything that I hate about bringing Barry Allen back and giving it a far higher platform than I ever could.

  9. Man, I can literally feel your anger about these books coming off the screen. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, just that it’s very obvious how strongly you feel about this stuff.

    I’m in general a Geoff Johns fan. I’ve for the most part enjoyed his Green Lantern run, after having never cared about the character before. I thought his Hawkman run was great. I also really enjoyed his work on the Flash and JSA. But I also realize that the people that don’t like him have some valid points, and it seems that lately I’m agreeing with them more and more. I’m still enjoying GL (I thought his work during Blackest Night on GL proper was much better than on the actual BN series itself) but the navel gazing and over the top gore and arm-severing is getting tiresome. And this is from someone who considers Garth Ennis as one of his top 5 writers(not that Ennis overdoes the navel gazing thing.) But man, there honestly was no reason whatsoever to bring back Barry Allen. And if Brightest Day still has the level of “super-kewl” gore that Johns and DC seem to think they need in their comics, they really just don’t get it anymore.

    That was longer and less funny than comments usually are on this site. I’m going to blame the Captain in Me.

  10. I never understood the appeal of Barry Allen. At least Hal Jordan has some interesting character traits- Allen is the most wooden, least interesting character in the DC Universe. I would seriously rather read an ongoing book about Orca, Jericho and Vibe than anything with Barry Allen in it.

  11. Also, as regards Brightest Day, I was really, really hoping that Boston Brand would be left with no superpowers but a pulse and his ability carry off a two-foot shirt collar, leading to his new identity as Aliveman. But even that kitschy pleasure has apparently been screwed up. Dammit, Johns.

  12. 3 things to add about Brightest Day:

    - In the hands of a good writer, Deadman walking in on ALL of resurrected people fucking could have been hilarious. In the hands of a good writer.
    - J’ONN STILL LIKES OREOS A LOT HURR DURR
    - Worst first page ever? Can we get a consensus?

    Also, I’m holding my nose for as long as possible and making like Flash is an out-of-continuity title. That won’t work for long, but it’s helping me get past the storytelling to enjoy that art. And where’s that Wally West second feature we were promised way back when this book was announced like 5 years ago?

  13. Dude, I would buy the hell out of any Legion story you wrote. Just sayin’.

    *brofist*

  14. Damn, Chris, thanks for the review of Flash. I’d pretty much had it up to here with Johns and the return of Barry certainly didn’t please me….

    …but hot damn, I picked the issue up just now and it was a blast. It had the same new series excitement that Power Girl’s first issue brought.

  15. If it helps, Barry’s return to a secret identity was probably a side effect of Wally’s regaining his secret identity a few years back. And the cover story for Barry’s return to his old life and job (explained in “Rebirth”) is that he had been under Witness Relocation, but he was one of the rare few who has the opportunity to return to his old identity. Iris’s youth was also explained in “Rebirth”: the Speed Force is the fountain of youth.

    I understand the viewpoint of “Who would want Barry back, he was always written like an automaton”, but that also serves as the justification for bringing him back: put him in the hands of a writer who knows what to do with him (don’t let us down Geoff) and yesterday’s automaton is today’s interesting character. That is, in theory, a net benefit to the company.

    I also understand the view that, when old characters are given focus once again, it pushes legacy characters to the background, and that’s unfortunate. But at the same time, they tried relaunching and revamping Wally multiple times in the past couple years, and it just wasn’t working … is DC obligated to keep relaunching him if it’s not catching on, or maybe they should kill him off and have someone replace him, or MAYBE they can just de-prioritize him for now? That last one seems to leave the most options open. Besides, if Barry’s back it means that Wally is no longer obligated to sit in for him, which allows him to be his own man in ways he never could before, which in the long run is good for him. As soon as they find the right writer for him, that is.

  16. Things like the return of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan and so on repeatedly run into a minor issue. We’re told how great and important these characters are and how people clamor for them to return, but then you look over their old runs and you realise something.

    They have no actual personalities. They are just these blankspots that things happen to. There’s no point to them beyond nostalgia. It’s not as if they’re returning to well known and valued properties to make them into movies or what have you. Beyond the names, no one really cares who these people are. It just comes off as so horribly pointless.

  17. I’m sorry that you didn’t like your comics Chris. I DID like Blackest Night, and I also enjoyed Brightest Day AND the Flash. Yes, it’s a bit self-referential to keep referring to the title in the pages of the book, but the bit with J’onn and Guy actually makes a bit of sense, since it is a Green Lantern who is saying it, and since it is actually a Part Of The Oath. However, if everyone ELSE is going to run around saying Brightest Day, then I can understand your disdain.

    I like Barry. I’ve always liked Barry. I like Wally too. I prefer my comic book characters, heroes and villains to be alive and kicking and doing things.

  18. I didn’t like Barry coming back in Final Crisis either, but then in the rest of Final Crisis Morrison really sold it in the remaining scenes with Barry Wally and Jay interacting. Then Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher told that AMAZING Barry Allen story in Wednesday Comics, and Johns killed all that momentum with Rebirth(which in and of itself was best when it was about Wally). With this issue Johns Reignites some of that Hope, but man what I wouldn’t give for a Kerschl/Fletcher ongoing.

  19. I could be stating the obvious here, but Barry Allen coming back has more to do with DC’s (Warner Brothers) plans for movies and television then it does with the comic.

    And that’s just fucking awful.

    And really I think that’s DC’s problem right now. They reshuffled their corporate structure, for the exact purpose of making smooth transitions between their properties and other media, and in doing so they’ve essentially hit the reset button when it wasn’t neccesary to do so.

    They can claim nostalgia all they want, but the fact is, when people who don’t read comics think of the The Flash, they think Barry Allen (and possibly that show on Sci-Fi a few years back.)

    It’s sad really, but I think this is less Geoff John’s fault than it is Warner Brothers fault.

  20. Geez, I didn’t think Brightest Day #0 was THAT bad. It was all set-up. I went in figuring it would be all set-up, and it was all set-up, and I didn’t have any problems with it. My only gripe was Hawkgirl stating that her husband’s incarnation as the Silent Knight occurred in the late 1500s. Well, like, no, maybe a thousand years earlier is more like it. That’s something I wish the editor had picked up on. Oh, well. On to The Flash #1.

  21. Three things:

    1) LIFEMAN! AA-AAAAAHHH! FIGHTER OF THE DEADMAN! AA-AAAAAAHHHH! CHAMPION OF THE SUN! HE’S A MASTER OF KARATE AND FRIENDSHIP FOR EVERYONE!

    2) I haven’t followed Jason Rusch’s career at all, even for a second. But I did see that BATB cartoon and if the comic book Jason, like the cartoon Jason, is really smart and knows all about chemistry, then I will say one thing in defense of Ronnie getting the body. In the cartoon, Ronnie was bringing nothing to the table. In the original Raymond/Stein setup, one is the body and one is the brains of the outfit who actually tells the body how to make styrofoam out of cyanide, or whatever. If the body and the brains are one guy, then the other guy is…what? Rick Jones to Captain Mar-Vell?

    3) Let me add my voice to the “None of these guys had personalities” camp. I get Thrillho’s point, but it doesn’t persuade me that having a half-dozen characters all named Flash and all with distinct but intertwined histories is a net benefit to the company, either. And as far as characters like Wally being given lots of chances, plenty of writers tried throwing plenty of crap at the Barry Allen wall in hopes that SOMETHING would stick (Barry Allen: MURRRRDERERRR!) and nothing ever did. The one time they ever found a way to make him an interesting character was when they killed him and used his amazingly bland heroism to advantage by making it a memory for someone else to live up to. IMO.

  22. Chis, I’m curious if you checked out Secret Six this week to see Catman’s rebuttal of your Blackest Night in 60 Seconds feature last week.

  23. Let me join the chorus of Geoff Johns…dislikers. I have to say, I, personally, view johns as the single worst thing that ever happened to comic books in general and DC Comics specifically (well, one of the two, the other being the Didiot). I keep wondering who it is that Johns has incriminating photos of. Or how he got popular in the first place. I remember reading Day of Judgment back in the day and saying to myself “This is the most poorly written comic, I’ve ever read, and that includes all the indie comic crap about unsociable loners whom normal just don’t understand because the loner is “special” in some way (God I HATE Ghostworld!)”. I mean, Alan Scott supported Hal becoming the Spectre because and I quote “it feels right”. Yes, let’s just give the power of God to a mass murdering psychopath who had to be reminded that racism was bad back when he was sane. And then his Teen Titans where every issue basically amounted to 22 pages of “Hey do you guys remember the NEW Teen Titans? Wasn’t book awesome? Isn’t it this just like it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?” I gave up after 6 issues, and haven’t read a johns comic since.

    If you ask me, and you didn’t, there are really only two or three writers who really understood what made the Silver Age great. AS stated before by Karsten and Tim C, it has nothing to do with the characters who were wooden, interchangable, one-dimensional goodie-goodies. The big appeal was the constant stream of new ideas and new characters. In my opinion the only people that ever understood that were Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and Tom Peyer on the criminally underrated Hourman book. These guys kept expanding the mytholiges of characters and giving us new takes on old concept, and brining in completely fresh concepts (speed force, time prison, and god only knows how many crazy things Morrrison came up with). Every time I picked up an issue of Flash, JLA, or Hourman, I knew I was going to get something I’d never really seen before. It was awesome!

    To me, the worst part of Johns writing is endemic of all of what’s ailing DC comics currently, which is this bizarre combination of self-referential nostalgia and incredible, explicit hyperviolence. The whole thing seems to be “Remember Barry Allen wasn’t he awesome? Well, now he’s super badass cuz he rapes kittens and then pulls apart dead bodies and drinks blood. Super-kewl, man”. And it’s not superkewl, it’s a symptom of an inability to create a new idea and tell it in a story.

    Sorry for the length of the rant, but Chris’s review just got me thinking. Great review Chris, and I second that general Johns review. Also, have you ever read any of the Humanoids books DC released a couple years back? If not, you might want to check them out. Not Superheroes, but some really crazy science fiction that makes Grant Morrison look like a safe, normal storyteller.

  24. Please don’t use the term “Didiot.” It’s one of the top five stupidest things to come out of LiveJournal, and it’s utterly without class.

  25. It’s really sad that DC has access to the most iconic superheroes out there,characters who everyone the world over knows and loves,and yet has no idea how to produce comic books about them.
    Industry types always complain that they can’t get noobs interested in comics. Well,I’m no newcomer to comics. I’m wearing a Flash T-shirt right now,I own 3 Flash action figures,and I don’t buy Flash comics. Nor do I buy the 12 Superman titles that all tie into each other and only some have Superman. I love DC characters,I watch their animated DVDs,I watch BBATB,I buy and read those big Showcase Presents,but beyond Batman (see what I did there) and GLC,everytime I pick up a DC trade I’m always disappointed.
    Contrast that with Dark Avengers. I’ve read the first two trades of that so far,and I loved them,despite the fact that I have no idea who most of the people are.
    I’m not saying DC is always bad,or Marvel always good,but the Marvel characters seem interesting to me because the story shows me that they’re interesting and do interesting things. DC characters seem interesting to me because I played with Kenner Super Powers action figures as a child.

  26. I have to say I agree completely on your assessments of Brightest Day and Flash. I might be coming around to your way of thinking on Johns = good/great or bad/abysmal, as well.

    I hinted at some of the things you complained about in BD in a Best Shots Rapid Fire review. The problem is really that they decided to try to hit all of the involved characters in the first issue with about equal time. That’s a bad thing because it gave them just enough time/room where they had to TELL YOU everything, rather than choosing to SHOW YOU it. I felt annoyed by the use of Deadman, because it was so obvious he was a device in a “we don’t have the room for natural transitions or segues, so how are we going to…DEADMAN! BRILLIANT!” way, rather than a character. I guess that’s a mark of consistency, because he was a device of sorts in BN, too.

    All I know is that if anyone else wrote this and posted it on the internet, it would be called bad fanfic. If someone off the street submitted a script of the apparent quality involved here and managed to have an editor read it, it would immediately hit the circular file without getting past the first 10 pages.

  27. And, believe it or not, I actually consider myself a fan of Geoff Johns’ work. Heck, I’m a fan of Tomasi’s work, as well. But this is some real “paint by numbers” writing from them. Not that they aren’t each capable of writing a clunker, but I wonder if this issue wasn’t so beneath their best output because collaborating on a single script just isn’t something they do well together.

  28. About throwing crap at the Barry Allen wall … we actually have Cary Bates to blame for almost all of that. The guy wrote Barry’s adventures from about 1972 until his death, sometimes serving as his own editor (we all know how well that turns out). The guy who killed off Iris … ? Cary Bates. The guy who, in the issue immediately following the “Iris’s death” story arc, ushered in the hot next door neighbor and the evil twin … ? Cary Bates. The guy who had Barry kill Professor Zoom … ? That too was Cary Bates. Bates handled Barry so poorly that, if you wanted to see even a spark of personality in Barry, you’d have to go over to JLA and Gerry Conway’s writing; I lived through it, it was not a pretty time in comics.

    Anyway, I completely agree that Silver Age heroes as a rule had no personality; but even that doesn’t make them value-less, because of the imprint they’ve made. Until very recently, Wally West still dressed in Barry’s costume, lived in Barry’s town, fought Barry’s villains, and dedicated his life to being everything Barry was. Even though Barry was dead for almost 25 years, he really wasn’t gone.

  29. so this week, Johns 1 – 1 Sims?

    also not sure if you’re still checking with Adventure, but in the new issue Zod drop kicks Superboy in the face. Sure nothing will ever beat this week’s “kick in the teeth” but its worth noting.

    Also I hope you still read Unwritten. New issue was deliciously hilarious

    “which, ironically enough, was ended so that Johns and Brad Meltzer could have their cake with a pastiche of the late ’70s Legion”
    You know you ate the fuck out of this cake.

  30. Please please please understand that I don’t think Silver Age DC comics are valueless just because the lead characters are bland. I’m personally of the opinion that they’re MEANT to be bland, in contrast to their Marvelous competition, in hopes that one-size-fits-all “heroic” personalities would make them more “iconic.” Besides, we all know Silver Age DC stuff is mostly about plot, not characterization, anyway. And I did point out that Barry was an interesting character, I just think it’s only because he was dead. Seeing another character (Wally) trying to live up to his legacy, wear his clothes, fight his bad guys, in a way that respected tradition rather than being all “It’s the ’90′s and I’m the all-new all-different Flash! I do things with ATTITUDE!” frankly made Barry a MORE interesting character than I personally think he had been before.

    You’re right about Cary Bates. I lived through that too, and I should have remembered that that was almost all him. But I don’t mean to suggest that there’s anything awful about Bronze Age Flash either, per se, just that every character goes through these periods where they fall out of favor with the public, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re flawed or unworkable.

  31. Long time reader, first time poster.

    I seriously think that Johns will be infamous some day as the guy who killed DC comics. You can’t devote most of your career to rendering things out of continuity just because you didn’t like the stories, or changing characters back to how they were circa 1983 without ruining some of the things readers liked about DC’s shared universe in the process. Which probably helps explain why a lot of “popular” DC books sell about like stuff that would have been cancelled back in 2002.

    Johns has done a lot over the past ten years to drive away people like me who had no major beefs with DC’s status quo before the year 2000, when he and Judd Winick and Greg Rucka started deliberately messing things up in preparation for Infinite Crisis. And for what? To add a few more members to the JSA? To make Green Lantern one of the only titles that gets decent sales? To bring back Barry Allen?

    Now, the “DC Nation” that DiDio used to talk about all the time is basically the fifty or sixty thousand people who still like reading Geoff Johns comics. If those are the only people you can count on to buy your stuff on a consistent basis, you might as well throw in the towel and admit you just publish comics as a way of keeping the rights to the characters. In which case, they might as well just reprint old comics from the Eighties instead of paying Johns all that money to write new ones. They can stick some fresher pop culture references into old Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans comics and call them “Titans Reborn” or something.

    I predict that promoting Johns will turn out to be a really, really dumb move. He and DiDio probably won’t ever figure out that most people don’t like the Johns formula of mixing pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths nostalgia with Miracleman-style violence any more, so that means they’re screwed unless Jim Lee somehow manages to save their bacon.

  32. Also, I’ll tell you what was good about Brightest Day.

    It immediately proved Hal Jordan wrong.

    “Dead is dead from now on..” Psh!

  33. So, why, exactly, did we need to trade Boomer Junior (even after his terribly out of character stint in blackest night flash) for daddy?

    Also. previewing stories well in advance is something Johns does tons of. See also his JSA run (twice I think)

  34. I feel that Geoff Johns’ writing kind of symbolizes eveything right AND wrong with modern DC comics. I am, however, seeing his promotion to chief CREATIVE director as kind of a red flag. Being CREATIVE isn’t the guy’s strong suit.

  35. 15 years ago, if you’d told me I’d be reading 3 Marvel titles for every DC title I read, I would have said you were crazy.

    Times change. Astute synopsis of DC, Chris.

  36. The original Captain Boomerang is a cooler character, even in spite of his horrible costume. They probably brought him back as a bone they could throw to people who didn’t like Identity Crisis. Also, it helps make DC in 2010 a little more like DC in 1983.

    The one I don’t get is bringing back the original Hawk. Also known as Extant. The guy Johns had the JSA and Metron basically murder in cold blood as revenge for stuff that happened during Zero Hour. The guy Johns then went on to replace with a new Hawk. Who was the never before seen or mentioned estranged sister of the female Dove.

    I don’t see Johns as being self-aware enough to realize that introducing the never before seen or mentioned estranged sister of the female Dove was a mistake. So what’s the deal? Did he finally notice how weird it was to have the JSA murder a guy and then basically let Atom-Smasher take all the blame for it?

    Yes, I know the story where Extant died in a plane crash so that Atom-Smasher could rescue his adoptive mother without causing a time paradox was Johns’ way of dealing with the death of his sister, the inspiration for Stargirl. That was still a weird comic.

    So… Is Hawk going to be evil now? Is he going to become Extant again? Or was Johns or somebody just feeling nostalgic about the Karl Kesel series?

    Just imagine how awkward it will be the next time Hawk sees the JSA. “Hey there, guys. Remember how I killed three of the coolest members of your team for stupid editorial reasons during Zero Hour? And then you let Atom-Smasher and Metron kill me so Johns could put how he felt about that into continuity? Let’s just let bygones be bygones, huh? Call it even? Wait! What if I said Parallax the evil space bug made me do it? Please don’t kill me again, Alan! Jay? Ted? Okay, I can probably take Ted… Not in the face! Not in the face!!”

  37. Well, I’m tremendously nostalgic for the Karl/Barbara Kesel “Hawk and Dove” series, but even I have to admit that the character has been wrecked so badly that nothing short of a truly fucking hellacious retcon can fix him.

  38. After reading this, I have to induct you as a member of the Anti-Didio League of America. Couldn’t agree more about Barry Allen. This back-tracking of the DC Universe needs to end.

  39. With all the complaining about Johns bringing back Barry, let us not forget that this is exactly what Didio wanted, as well as Hal’s resurrection. This is why he brings in the writers that he does.

  40. DiDio is going to be known as the other guy responsible for the death of DC’s mainstream comics line. The guy has done almost nothing to justify why some people think he’s doing a good job, other than smoothing things over with Grant Morrison that one time he threatened to take his ball and go home.

    DiDio called Countdown “52 done right.” That right there should have been a huge red flag.

    DC’s successes under DiDio’s tenure mostly seem to boil down to ol’ Dan getting out of the way when Johns or Morrison want to do something that sounds cool. And for this he keeps getting promotions?

  41. It’s amazing how many people think they know the business of comics without being in the boardrooms or the meetings of the people who actually DO the work.

    The only thing YOU people should keep in mind is that they have better information than you do, keep track of their business better than you do, and know what’s going to happen and what they’re trying to do with their COMPANY better than you do. It is their job, after all. The rest of you just get to be armchair quarterback with OLD INFORMATION.

    By the time the comics hit the stands, they’re working on the NEXT thing. All they have to do is PROMOTE what came out that week, not apologize for it.

    And note I’m not even getting into MY personal tastes OR yours, whoever you might be. I don’t CARE what your personal opinion is. But I DO care about the fanboy entitlement that some fans have. It isn’t deserved or warranted. Be an adult. You don’t like the books? Don’t read ‘em, save your money. Don’t waste what precious life you have complaining. DO something with it. You think you can do a better job? Start publishing, get noticed.

    And with that I’ll never return here again.

  42. I don’t CARE what your personal opinion is. But I DO care about the fanboy entitlement that some fans have. It isn’t deserved or warranted. Be an adult. You don’t like the books? Don’t read ‘em, save your money. Don’t waste what precious life you have complaining. DO something with it. You think you can do a better job? Start publishing, get noticed.

    And with that I’ll never return here again.

    That’s nice.

  43. “I’ll never return here again” = “silently lurking for the next few days to see what people are saying in response to my hissy fit”

  44. I think that dude needs to understand the difference between “fanboy entitlement” and “legitimate criticism.”

    And also to not be a factory-wrapped DOOSH.

  45. And if that weren’t enough, you already have the “you can’t criticize people if you don’t do what they do” tactic covered.

  46. Even back when I was basically a Johns enthusiast (because of JSA and Hawkman), I always disliked his work on Flash. Seemed to me like he broke Wally West, after Waid had done such great work for so long developing him. And what he did with the Rogues was my first hint about what was to come: “all character development since 1986 should be undone, so that everything’s like it was in the Bronze Age, except with a nasty edge and a bit of the old ultra-violence.”

    I don’t actually believe that he deliberately broke Wally in order to make him unusuable in order to get the chance to bring back Barry. But it kind of amuses me to pretend to believe it.

    I’m fine with saying: Barry could be interesting. But Wally already *was* interesting, and Barry made a better dead patron saint than he had ever made an actual character. Seems like a lot of trouble to go through, for no particularly good reason.

  47. “when people who don’t read comics think of the The Flash, they think Barry Allen”

    I’m not sure they do. People who don’t read comics know that Bruce Wayne is Batman and Clark Kent is Superman, probably Peter Parker and Bruce Banner (and Tony Stark ’cause of the movie), but for characters like Green Lantern, The Flash, etc. I don’t think they really think about the secret identity at all.

  48. I can see why Jason would be justified in thinking I’m a jerk. Most people on the Internet do. But it makes no sense to stop coming here just because I ticked him off.

    And who says I’m buying Geoff Johns comics? I stopped doing that a long time ago.

    This is the part where Jason gets to come back just long enough to get on my case for complaining about stuff I didn’t buy. Maybe adding something about how “The Hunt for Extant” was one of his favorite story arcs of the past twenty years.

    I did buy “Hunt for Extant”, so I still get to complain about that. I think… Maybe I don’t because I did pay for those issues. Johns apologists tend to go with whichever approach helps them feel like they’re winning.

  49. I don’t even think of Barry Allen when I think of the Flash, and I’ve been reading comics for, like, 15 years. Barry Allen died before I ever learned how to read.

  50. I want to echo what Kid Nicky said above. I love DC’s characters. I grew up in the comic book Bronze Age, but thanks to 80-page giants and 100-page super spectaculars I was pretty well-versed in the rich history of the company. I knew the difference between Earth-X and Earth-S.

    For me, Barry Allen will always be THE Flash. While I don’t dispute Chris’ argument, the truth is that none of that matters to me. I’m the guy who wants things to be the way they were when I was a kid.

    And yet, I have no intention of reading the new Flash series. Nor do I read Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern or any other current comics featuring these beloved characters.

    Why? Because I find it pointless to read the monthly adventures of heroes who live in a constant state of universe-shattering crisis, where Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again. And again. Where icons are butchered to slake fanboy bloodlust, then resurrected to play their part in the next cosmos-overturning, year-long crossover. (And they said that the multiple earths were confusing.)

    I briefly bought Detective Comics when Paul Dini was writing it and it wasn’t part of some multi-title story arc. Because I like Batman, and I want to read stories about Batman (preferably Bruce Wayne) being Batman.

    I was thrilled when I heard the multiverse was back. But rather than spend some time exploring the ramifications of that “new” reality, DC immediately set to destroying most of the revived earths. Then there was a “final” crisis (which I did read, but still don’t understand), followed immediately by everyone becoming a zombie power ring-wielder, followed immediately by whatever the hell Brightest Day is.

    So, instead of buying current DC Comics, I watch “The Brave and the Bold” and revel in good stories, well-told.

  51. “Why? Because I find it pointless to read the monthly adventures of heroes who live in a constant state of universe-shattering crisis, where Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again. And again. Where icons are butchered to slake fanboy bloodlust, then resurrected to play their part in the next cosmos-overturning, year-long crossover. (And they said that the multiple earths were confusing.)”

    That pretty much says it all right there.

    Sure, that kind of stuff resulted in DC making a lot of money during Infinite Crisis and 52. But continuing to do stuff like that seven years later, all the time, even though you can’t count on it to increase sales any more? Even after Countdown and Trinity bombed? Even though monthly sales estimates make it seem kind of silly to publish anything that wasn’t written by Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison because even the stuff that gets good reviews on sites like this one sells like crap by the fourth issue?

    I think we’ve all heard the Albert Einstein quote before about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    What was so bad about DC before Infinite Crisis that made DiDio decide he needed to start going down that road? As far as I’ve been able to figure out, his only real concern was that he thought Titans and Young Justice should have been selling better.

    Okay, so that kind of justifies “Graduation Day” and the Johns Teen Titans series. But all the other stuff?

    I guess “Identity Crisis” makes sense from the standpoint that DiDio started thinking people weren’t taking DC as seriously as Marvel. But did it really make sense for that to become more or less the new DC house style? Or to encourage Geoff Johns to take it to more ridiculous extremes in stories like Infinite Crisis?

    Constantly publishing Infinite Crisis-style stories where characters stand around talking about how awesome some other DC hero is in between scenes where Black Adam rips out some guy’s large intestine and then strangles him with it and Deathstroke goes around drugging teenage girls with his mind control roofies hasn’t made any sense at all in at least five years. Nobody seems to like that stuff any more except for the most die-hard Johns fans and a few other people on message boards who have been trained to think of that type of thing as “mature storytelling.”

  52. After Blackest Night, Brightest Day #0 and that preview of Green Lantern #52 which featured Hector Hammond talking about how jealous he is of that handsome Hal Jordan, I declare today the day that I no longer give a damn about “Geoff Johns Presents The Hal Jordan Is Awesome Show.”

    Thankfully, I have Abnett and Lanning’s cosmic stuff to scratch that itch. Nova’s been a better Green Lantern book than the actual Green Lantern book has been in a good while.