Sunday, March 07, 2021


Joker Fatigue

I'm experiencing Joker fatigue.

Recently, I was on Twitter and a user whose initials I'll use, "DB" proposed that "There needs to be absolutely no Joker or Joker related stories from DC for at least five years." I read that sentence and felt my heart rise a bit. My heart yearns for a DCU without a Joker in it. 

I like that world, I want to be in that world. A world where a Joker appearance may actually... mean something. 

Let me get this out of the way... I don't hate The Joker. I like him. I am tired of him, though. 

Lately, I find myself more tired of the things people put on him and into him. The Joker is plainly and simply, insane. That's it. There's nothing more to it than that. As I grow older, I find myself less interested in what new way he'll inflict his cruelty onto Gotham. I become less interested in which way he'll escape again to do all over again but in some new crueler way.

I'm tired.

I'm tired of folks thinking there's brilliance to be found in insanity.

The original fun in The Joker was to be found in his randomness. How he could pop up in one writer's story wanting to destroy The Justice League, only to wind up in the suburbs fleeing Big Barda and Mister Miracle's cookout. Want another cool Joker story?

My personal favorite Joker story from the pages of Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight where Batman finds The Joker close to death after crossing paths with Ra's al Ghul, must make a hard decision allow him to die or submerge in within the restorative ooze that is a Lazarus Pit so that he can bring The Joker to justice.

Batman chooses the pit. Now, here's the thing about Lazarus Pits, when one rises from the pool, they emerge violently. Feral, even.

The Joker having lived most of his life immersed in violence, emerges from The Lazarus Pit changed, racked with guilt and pain over all of the lives he's destroyed, crying for the judgement he finally knew he deserved.

To say that I was intrigued would be an understatement. That story took place twenty years ago in Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight #142-145. I haven't been given the opportunity to be surprised by The Joker since.

Lately though, stories involving The Joker don't lean into the randomness of his actions and go all in on the belief that his sadism is somehow a frequency we could never understand.

To quote Chris Rock, "Whatever happened to crazy?"

Lately, all The Joker is is just evil and nothing more than a Batman-adjacent serial killer. 

Let's be real, today's Joker is less criminal mastermind and more Victor Zsasz but in purple pants.

In order to get into most any Batman story, you have to invest into that rogue's mission. With say, The Mad Hatter, you most likely will have something "hat" happen. When the "mad" is emphasized something glorious could unfold. For proof, look no further than Detective Comics #787, Brian K. Vaughan's heart-wrenching look into the Mad Hatter's mind. It moved me and now, I have a hard time watching Batman sock him in the jaw again. 

I find myself in an age of mass shootings and gaslighting from all sides less able to stomach the continuing saga of a serial killer.

This month, there's a new continuing Joker series arriving on comic shop stands. I genuinely believe the creators involved are great and will find something new to say with this character. 

Maybe I'll be missing out but I don't see myself reading it. As a firm believer in consequences, my head just won't allow me to go there.

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Friday, July 03, 2020


Why Wonder Woman Can't Have A Rogues Gallery

For years, there's been an argument that Wonder Woman has one of the weaker rogues galleries within the supervillian spectrum. Now, true, her adversaries aren't as flashy as Batman's. Most of them are, at best, Clock Kings to her Batman. Heck, they're not even as on-the-nose as Spider-Man's animal-meet-other-animal dynamic. What Wonder Woman's rogues gallery has is nuance. I would argue that Wonder Woman may just be a hero WITHOUT a rogues gallery. It's all just a matter of perception. We need to view “rogues” through the eyes of one Diana, Princess of Themyscira AKA Wonder Woman. She has no true enemies. She has never declared a war on crime. If there is anything she's against, it is suffering and let's be honest, many who oppose her are suffering in some way. Wonder Woman doesn't have enemies. She has persons she hasn't reached. If Wonder Woman is at a cookout and The O'Jays’ "Love Train" comes on, she's gotta stand up, dance and sing along harder than anyone. That's her entire jam. That's her anthem. 

When your whole focus is aeipathy, an unyielding passion, you can never truly have a "rogues gallery." Her compassion won't allow for it.

The brilliance of writer Greg Rucka's initial Wonder Woman run is that he states, explicitly, in its very first pages what we should've realized all along: Wonder Woman is an ambassador. 

Yes, she is more widely known as a princess but I've always suspected that is in no way how she envisions herself. Wonder Woman sees herself as an extension of her mother Hippolyta's heart and that heart beats for Themyscira. It is a place of equality, knowledge and most of all, loving diplomacy and that love and the place where it comes from has chosen her.

In the first pages of Rucka's run, he literally has her walk through the doors of her homeland Themyscira's newly established American embassy. She is smiling. She is enthusiastic. She sees, in full, the possibilities diplomacy can bring to the collective table. Sadly, that enthusiasm was largely met with suspicion. 

Themyscira, where she calls home, sat cloaked in isolation for centuries. They worshiped old gods; they claimed their origins from these old gods. The Themysciran Amazons were known for their ferocity in battle and here was the princess, Diana, their greatest warrior with her hand outstretched, ready to be received.

The world with its focuses on division was not ready. Especially from a woman.

I thought it was brilliant. 

Wonder Woman, child of the Greek gods is, essentially, a modern-day Sisyphus. The suffering of others is the boulder she will gladly push against and hope to defeat for the rest of her days.

Some, for unknown reasons, view Diana's grace as something to be tested. Much in the way that I suspect that she sees herself as an ambassador, the world at-large sees her as a threat. Before the world-at-large got its first glimpse of Princess Diana, she fist-fought Ares, the God of War. Let's think about that, she fought Ares and walked away knowing the war against War was winnable. In Wonder Woman we have someone willing to fight to the death for peace. In order to assure that there will be a tomorrow, she is willing to throw down today. As surely as she was blessed with the wisdom of Athena, she was blessed with the righteous war spirit of her mother.

She is not Batman. She does not go out into the night looking for signs of trouble. She operates more as a beacon for the troubled and yes, the troubled find her.

And there it is, troubled souls find her

The current Silver Swan, Vanessa Kapatelis, was crippled during a battle between Wonder Woman and Major Disaster. Over time, she and her mother, Julia became closer with Diana to the point they became as close as family. Sadly, Vanessa's mother passed away and as Diana's responsibilities grew, she saw less and less of Vanessa leading her to feel abandoned by the one person she felt she had left in this world. Following an experimental procedures gone out of control, Vanessa had a psychotic break and became a dark version of a fictional hero she'd created with Diana during her convalescence.

Barbara Minerva, a brilliant polymath, she's forced into marriage with an old god and forever bound with the cannibalistic form of The Cheetah.

Veronica Cale, with a mind as great as any in The DCU, sees herself locked into a battle of wills and ideologies with Wonder Woman. In all actuality, she's at war with her own self-hate which ultimately lost her her daughter and the care of her former best friend, Doctor Cyber.

The tragedy with most Diana's rogues gallery is that had someone intervened at a crucial moment, they could have been counted among the allies. 

Of course, other Wonder Woman villains are just kinda... underdeveloped? 

Giganta, a character created nearly eighty years ago, gained more personality in Gail Simone's run on the All New Atom series as The Atom's love interest. That was a decade ago. To this day, writers tend to write her as "grows big, fights Wonder Woman" or "glorified background goon villain events, will soon be knocked out with one punch."

When you consistently use characters as cardboard stand-ups used to fill a panel, of course, they become viewed as weak. This can be fixed. All it takes is care and the right person to see the potential within Wonder Woman's sphere. 

Not very long ago, writer Paul Dini did a thing. In Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice," Mister Freeze became one of the most complex and relatable characters in DC Comics. 

Wonder Woman's rogues gallery is almost entirely in play for a break out. In the pages of Justice League Dark, Wonder Woman villain, Circe is displaying nuance rarely seen in her home title, Wonder Woman. Doctor Psycho, the misogynistic mindbender, seen recently in the Harley Quinn cartoon series, is sadly more relevant than ever. Ares, the God of War, should be someone Darkseid, seeker of The Anti-Life (!) Equation, should always have on his radar. Someone just has to care enough to make it happen. 

Unyielding passion. Care about the rogues as deeply as Wonder Woman. That is the key to making Wonder Woman your own. 


Friday, May 22, 2020


Comic Legend Revealed... For Me!

I asked pal and Great Comic Detective Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources a question as to why legendary cartoonist AlexToth pulled his Black Canary cover before publication in Birds of Prey #66.

Once again, Brian came through. 


Sunday, April 26, 2020


Made In DC and How I Learned To Heart The 90's

(Removes the cellophane and cracks open a CD case, inhaling the plastic-y, chemical whiff)

And now, I am ready to write about DC Comics in the 90's. Specifically, the three heroes that defined a shift in the way I came to love DC Comics.

Today, I have returned to stately Seven Hells! Manor via my personal underground subway to express my sincere appreciation (and to gather stacks of one dollar bills for later. *wink*) to Wally West, Dick Grayson and Kyle Rayner for making my late teens to early thirties comics experience the absolute best.

Picture it, the early 90's: a young Devon, fresh from practicing that Kid-N-Play "grab-your-foot-move-your-ankle-to-your-knee-jump-while-holding-your-foot-and-try-and-not-die" thing and not really feeling DC Comics the way he did back in the early 80's. If there wasn't an "X," an Image Comics logo or a She-Hulk on the cover, it wasn't really his thing.

As he walked into the local comics shop, swimming past a sea of variant covers and lingerie and swimsuit issues featuring our comic book girlfriends, there was it was: Flash #80 featuring Wally
West. It was shiny. Seriously. It was literally shiny. It sported a shiny cover drawn by Alan Davis, one of, if not my favorite artist of the time. It had something else, though, at the time, I had no idea how great it was. Issue 80 featured the debut of new Flash artist, Mike Wieringo. I can still remember the feeling. It was like the first time I'd walked into my local drug store and saw John Byrne's Man of Steel or the first time I saw Arthur Adams' Longshot. I knew comics had changed.

I'd read Flash before. I knew Wally had been Kid Flash before. I got that his taking over the mantle of The Flash was a big deal to comics. I knew that he was the first sidekick to graduate, so to speak. I hadn't really followed anything he'd done for a while, though. I just kinda didn't care. I was happy that he took the mantle because, to me, all Barry Allen ever was was the guy who raced Superman from time-to-time. Wally was different. Wally had a little bit of swag. He dated around. He won the lottery once. He had problems. He wasn't as fast as Barry so he had to work harder. He even bothered to get to know some of his Rogue's Gallery a little better and won their respect but somewhere along the line, I just lost touch.

Until that issue.

Thanks to writer, Mark Waid, Wally was still there but the art was more kinetic. The writing spoke to how hard it was to honor a legacy while trying to find your own way. Over time, Waid introduced this thing: The Speed Force, a supreme manifestation of velocity; a thing only a select few could access and the deeper you went within, the easier it was to over take you. Twenty-something Devon understood: "Wait, The Flashes are like speed Jedi? This is "The Force. They're not just "runs fast" anymore? Got it."

Wally went on to stand side-by-side with the heroes his Uncle Barry had to have told him tales of. We got to see the awe in his eyes as he watched Superman wrestled a war angel while The Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman held back a crashing, flaming ark literally plummeting from the heavens. Flash #80 was the beginning of Wally West becoming my Flash. This was where I truly became a fan of DC Comics.

I wanted in. I wanted to be made.

My money was not long in anyway during the 90's. Money that was earmarked for the Houses of Idea and Image was soon reallocated towards rediscovering The DC Universe and a new generation that was ready to step in and up.

In the pages of Batman, Bruce Wayne's back was literally broken by fan wishes that in-continuity Batman become more like the never-meant-to-be-continuity-Dark Knight Returns-Batman. In a grand experiment, their fetish was rewarded with The Knightfall Saga and a newer, angrier, armor-ier Batman in Jean-Paul Valley, who would kill. And it didn't go so well for anyone. Except for maybe former Batman sidekick, Dick Grayson who, at the time, IIRC, had been Nightwing for a while but hadn't really done much more than declare every other issue that he wasn't Robin anymore. You'd think that Dick would've been the one to take over the Batman mantle but nah. Didn't happen. DC needed to make a point that Batman shouldn't kill so... (shrug) no Nightwing.

When this whole backbreaking thing ended, Dick did come back and took on the Batman mantle for a bit and for a weird thing happened. I think we kinda got the Nightwing we all were hoping for: a man with the teeth to truly be Batman but had so good of a heart that we wouldn't want him to have to carry that burden.

With the 1996 Nightwing series, we finally saw the post-Crisis Dick Grayson/Nightwing come into his own.

In the pages of Green Lantern, to me,  Hal Jordan was pretty much nothing more than a cool costume. There were other Green Lanterns but eh, they were just more space cops with different heads and limbs attached. So, when Hal Jordan  killed the entire freakin' GL Corps in an attempt to become God and reboot continuity, we were left with no more of those awesome Green Lantern costumes. Pity. They looked great.

Enter Kyle Rayner, a young twenty-something who had zero interest in becoming a hero, much less the final wielder of The Power Ring, a weapon with roots steeped within the dawn of creation. Kyle was a Kyle and no offense to Kyles but the words, "Kyle cured cancer yesterday" will never come out of anyone's mouth. This Kyle was gifted, though. He was a comic book artist. He liked Nine Inch Nails. Again, Kyles will never cure cancer and as the Green Lantern Corps came to a shocking and bloody end, the final ring went out. Normally, the ring, upon the death of a Lantern, would go out to the bravest in any particular sector of space. This time, it just sorta went out and a comic book loving dude standing in an alleyway became THE Green Lantern. No one to show him the ropes. There wasn't even a damn training manual for the dang ring or its energy source, the power battery. He was what would happen if one of the DC Universe's greatest weapons were slipped upon our finger. He was out of his depth, alone, bound to make mistakes, anxious, trying to juggle his commitments and dealing with impostor syndrome.

Kyle Rayner was many of us in our twenties and I will forever love him for that.

I wrote this about Kyle back in '06:

"When Batman openly questioned Kyle's ability to do the job, Kyle quietly carried on the tradition of having a Green Lantern within The Justice League.

He did all of this for no other reason than someone had to do it. Kyle Rayner had no Guardians of The Universe to guide his hand. He had no Corps to back his play when and if he fell.

Today is another matter entirely, The Green Lantern Corps have returned in their own series, no less, stronger than ever. Hal Jordan and The Guardians of The Universe are back, better than ever.

There will be a Green Lantern in the upcoming Justice League of America title.


Kyle Rayner. Armed with nothing more than a weapon and a sense of right and wrong, Kyle held the f*ckin' line until something greater than himself could emerge.

Not Hal Jordan. Not Guy Gardner. Not John Stewart.

(Just) Kyle Rayner."

Kyle Rayner ultimately became who we'd hoped we'd be in our twenties. He simply became better.

These are my memories of DC Comics' 90's output and I recall them with fondness. These are the heroes I chose.

Wally West will always be my Flash. Kyle is my Green Lantern and Nightwing? When I think about what he is, he's a hero who still smiles. 

These are the heroes that I will forever associate with my favorite period in comics. I am made.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Do We Still Need A Justice League?

I'm in a sort of weird place with my DC Comics lately. I still read them. I'm not in that New 52 sinkhole DC forced me into. I still very much love the characters. I'm head over heels for Tom King's Batman. With Wonder Woman, I'm five issues in and waiting for something to happen with G. Willow Wilson's Wonder Woman run. It's good but I don't know, I'm kinda hoping this isn't another "For Whom The Gods Would Destroy" thing. Buying Young Justice #1 made me realize just how much I missed seeing Robin, Superboy, Impulse and Wonder Girl all on the same page.

And Justice League? I wish I could say that I was reading it but I'm not. It's not because of the creative team. It's stellar. Scott Snyder, Jim Cheung and Jorge Jimenez are any publisher's dream team. It has everything I should want. The Martian Manhunter has been firmly placed back within its ranks. It has The Trinity of Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman, It has a Flash and an but the older I get, the more I believe The Justice League shouldn't be a thing I can just buy once a month. Why?

There's always something bigger than The Justice League in the big event books and frankly, I feel like it’s diminished the impact of The Justice League.

This isn't on anyone in particular but to me, reading The Justice League feels more like an obligation than a privilege. Once to twice a year, we’re told the fate of the universe is at stake while in their own book, The League rises to meet whatever "alien invasion of the month" or another "fate of The Multiverse" thing leading into an event and I see a lessening.

The 1986 DC event, Legends was used to show the necessity of a Justice League. Now, The Justice League has come to serve the event.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: When something so big happens that it has to bring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman into the same room, you should feel like things are gonna be alright. What big crossover events have shown me lately is that when a Flash walks into a room, you should be worried because the timestream is FUBAR. The Flash to me, since Flashpoint, signals that a story is about to get really long and complicated.

I'm not putting my apathy for The JL on The Flash, I love the guy. The League isn't a League without a Flash. More what I'm trying to say is that I just want to feel the wonder of seeing these heroes together again. I want to show up for a Justice League and feel like I'm being taken on a journey and not another long ride.

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Monday, March 19, 2018


The End of The Wildcat Strike

One of the greatest injustices of The New 52 is that it altogether erased the Justice Society of America from continuity.

Sure, we got a comics thing that was called Earth 2 out of it but in my very, very, VERY humble opinion, eff that comic.

One, because eff it and two, because it had ZERO Wildcat in it. None. Therefore, it was terrible.

Since 2011's cancellation of The DC Universe continuity, to my knowledge, there have been ZERO appearances of Ted Grant, Wildcat's gov't name, within the pages of a DC Comic, in-continuity or otherwise.

So, imagine my surprise while looking through the June 2018 DC Comics solicitations and lo AND behold, Scooby-Doo Team-Up, of all things is where we see a Wildcat of any sort, reappear on the comics page.

If you're not reading Scooby-Doo Team-Up, you should. It is simply a celebration of all things fun, Scooby, comics and Warner Bros properties. In short, it's good comics.

Now, I know this story won't be in any way, be a precursor of anything within DC Comics proper but seeing as how we've had no Wildcat sightings in seven years, I'll gladly take this.


Sunday, February 18, 2018


A Salute to The Newsstand

It happened and like many things we barely noticed.

The newsstand, the place where comic books were born, sold their final DC Comics issues in latter 2017.

I'll be the first to admit that I hadn't picked up a comic off of a newsstand in decades so yeah, I know I'm complicit in its demise, even more as a former direct market comics retailer.

Won't change the fact that the newsstand was where I discovered my love for comic books. Nothing brought me more joy than the slow, grinding creek of an un-oiled spinner rack straining under the weight of G.I. Joe, Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man, The Brave and the Bold, The Fantastic Four and Charlton comics.

As distribution channels changed for ways to receive your comics, I changed right along with them. On newsstands, I was never quite guaranteed finding the comics I was looking for on a month-to-month basis much less in great condition so the minute I discovered comic shops, I couldn't turn back.

It was where I found the thing I love. Comics fed me for nearly twenty years in comics retail. As a fan, they have balmed my soul for nearly forty. It is where I found my joy. It is where my mind turns to when I think of the discovery of new universes to explore.