SHAZAM! ORIGINS: A couple of months ago, when the new Shazam! series began, I remarked that Justice League #0 was the only post-Flashpoint appearance of the character (no longer known as Captain Marvel) that I knew of. What I said was true, but the first issue of the new series made it clear that I obviously had missed something. The recent tpb collects everything a new reader needs to know to enjoy the new series. Issue #0 wasn’t even the character’s first appearance. The tpb collects stories from Justice League #7-11, 0, 14-16 and 18-20. This updating of the legend (by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank) is like no Captain Marvel (when he was known as Captain Marvel) you have read before.
It is unclear whether Johns is using the “Seven Deadly Sins” of Catholic dogma or the “Seven Deadly Enemies of Man” of the comics. Only five of them are named [Pride, Envy, Greed, Wrath (replacing Hatred) and Sloth (replacing Laziness)]. That leaves Gluttony and Lust (or Selfishness and Injustice) unaccounted for. All seven are visually depicted, but the one who looks like Gluttony to me is identified as Greed. No mention whatsoever is made of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles or Mercury. I can’t really fault DC for dropping the name Captain Marvel (not in the movies, anyway). Just yesterday I overheard a co-worker discussing a “Marvel movie” she could remember the name of. Turns out it was Aquaman.
Honestly, after the demise of Fawcett comics, I think there have been very few successful attempts to bring Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! into the mainstream DCU. I really liked Jerry Ordway’s version, and Johns’, while quite different, is my favorite other than that.
I read The Grim Knight #1, which is a part of The Batman Who Laughs miniseries (somehow), written by Scott Snyder (and, again, I assume James Tynion IV) and drawn by Eduardo Risso. Risso's art goes a long way toward helping this issue out, but unfortunately, most of it is done in his painted style which he used a lot in his Vertigo autobiography of Paul Dini. In my opinion, his line work goes much further than his painted material. Still, this Batman comic felt important; I will be interested to see if the Batman Who Laughs becomes just another Joker. I can't imagine how mad the Joker would be to find out he had a rival for Batman's love.
Weirdly, Sensei, your post reminds me of watching Gotham last night. My wife and I are a little behind, and are catching up, and, in general, we really enjoy Gotham. And we're reallu enjoying this run in particular, since the show is wrapping things up.
But in this particular episode one of the bits was that Jeremiah Valeska (in full Joker mode) was re-creating the murder of Bruce's parents, and it was obviously supposed to be a suspensful scene, full of emotional import. and ...
I discovered I was bored.
Yes, Bruce Wayne's parents were killed. Bruce responds with a lifelong career as a vigilante. OK, good -- I like Batman comics. But can we move on from the murder, please? Anyone still obsessing over that (looking at you, Bruce) isn't in his right mind. I want Batman to be someone I can admire, not someone who stropped growing emotionally at age 8 and is still obsessed by events that happened in that year. Yes, it's a powerful motivator. But anything other than that is an unhealthy obsession that makes my teeth itch.
Point is, I don't want to read any more about the death of the Waynes. Frank Miller added the pearls, which are a terrific symbol-cum-metaphor, but nothing worthwhile has been added since. Honest, I never want to see that scene again. I've seen it way too many time already, and nothing since the '80s has added to my appreciation of it -- in fact, most recent scenes have the opposite effect, as they irritate/bore me. (Same with Spider-Man's origin.)
Also, I'm tired of the Joker. So much so, that I read as little of "The Batman Who Laughs" as I can
I do recognize the twist on TBWL -- he's the Batman, plus he's the Joker. That's like, twice-Joker, or something. But isn't the original still around? And hasn't he proved to be Batman's equal all by his lonesome? To paraphrase you, Sensei, I don't see what this new "Joker" adds that we haven't already seen from the original -- and wouldnt't the original put an end to this pretender, or die trying?
Anyway, as to what I'm reading, it's a lot of 1940s-50s Blue Beetle. God help me. But I'm also reading EC Archives: Piracy, and it's awesome. The stories tend to be repetitive (just like EC's Aces High), but the artwork is astonishing. I noticed Wally Wood and Reed Crandall doing some of the best work of their careers, and that's saying something. I honestly wish I read this when I was younger, and my vision was better. I know I'm missing a lot. But what I do see is stunning.
I also bought MINI-COMICS MIX TAPE, a numbered ultra-cutely packaged bag of " 8 risographed comics by @docpop! " and gave read a bit as yet.
Earlier this morning, I read a DC miniseries called Enginehead from 2003. The creative team is Joe Kelly and Ted McKeever. This was an odd, dark, but really enjoyable book. Ford Corrado is a former villain from a group called the Toolbox. Evidently, this is a real thing in the DCU. His name was Jackhammer. Long story short: He is talked into taking part in an experiment in combining with five other DC characters to become a robot named Enginehead. Enginehead is made up of Jackhammer, Dr. Cyber, Rosie the Riveter, Automan (who I thought was Robotman at first), Dr. Hamilton from Superman, and Brainstorm. All of these characters are either robots or at least part cybernetic to start with. Tin from the Metal Men doesn't accept the offer to become a part of Enginehead.
Corrado also has a robo-primate friend named Grease Monkey.
During this miniseries, we get guest-villain spots by Metallo and Electrocutioner. Corrado also has a brother who is a pedophile, but a very reluctant and ashamed pedophile. It's a very unique interpretation which makes him almost sympathetic, particularly after Ford finds out that their father sexually abused him. He says that it doesn't make him any less of a scumbag, but he just wanted Ford to know about it. This is after he was punished by having his pelvis removed (seriously).
Mr. Bones of the DEO is a part of the story as he tries to enlist EH, and we also have a very strange appearance by The Human Bomb (as you've never seen him before or since). In the last issue, we get a close-out including the Metal Men and the Justice League.
This story actually has kind of an uplifting ending. I really hope that, out there somewhere in the DCU, Irontown still exists and can be revisited one day.
As a story, it explores a lot of sad subjects, like age and decay, and the whole thing is like an island of misfit toys, which makes me have a soft spot for Irontown and its inhabitants.
I read the Batman/Flash/Heroes In Crisis crossover, "The Price", which was in #64-65 of each of their titles. It was much better than their previous one, the over-hyped and disappointing "The Button".
This story was more emotional, naturally, dealing with the loss of those who emulated them. Did they have the right to try to stop these young people from following their example or the obligation for the common good to let them? There's no correct answer but there were always secrets. The notion that secret identities protect their love ones has proven false far too many times. Now they are left to pick up the pieces of lives left shattered by their hubris, particularly Batman's (big shock there!).
IMMORTAL HULK #15: No spoilers here because I know Sensei is tradewaiting, but the story is more explicit about the so-called “Joker-Hulk” introduced a couple of issues back (#12?). He is referred to as the “devil-Hulk” but honestly, it just another, somewhat slightly different persona. The Hulk has been mischaracterized so often over the years, I hesitate to refer to it as a “persona” so much as a “mood” he’s in. He does have a particular mad on concerning the effect nuclear weapons have one the environment, which leads Doc Samson to jokingly refer to him as the “green” hulk.