‘Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love’ has the right spirit

Whether they’re being Rebirthed or Young Animaled, DC’s various superhero series may be getting all the attention; but they’re not all the publisher is putting out these days. Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love isn’t really a relaunch, and — somewhat refreshingly — it’s not a hip new take on a couple of decades-old concepts. Instead, writer Sarah Vaughn, artist Lan Medina, and colorist José Villarrubia have given a good old-fashioned ghost story a few tweaks and a superhero component, and produced one of the most entertaining first issues I’ve read in a while.

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How much ‘old’ does DC Comics need?

How much “old” do you need?

That question was more hypothetical back in the spring, before DC’s “Rebirth” initiative started quantifying it. “Rebirth” was as direct a response to the New 52 as the publisher has ever given, even bringing back specific characters from the old days to help the healing process along. “Rebirth” also up-ended the normal relaunch paradigm, which seeks to streamline a character’s presentation so as to keep what works and discard what doesn’t. By contrast, “Rebirth” took the position that the status quo generally needed fixing, and specifically could use a healthy dose of what had come before.

Regardless of its inelegance, though, the New 52’s streamlining had to come from somewhere. The old regime had been in place for at least 25 years, ever since the great cosmic streamlining of Crisis On Infinite Earths. Back then, the question of “how much old” related to what the character could do without. Today, it seems like the question is what the character needs to have put back.

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The Grumpy Color | Tom and Carla retire 2015, Part 1

Smash Pages contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman continue their end-of-year tradition, looking back at the year in Big Two superhero comics and looking forward to 2016.

hulk_vs_superman_rude
World’s Smashiest

[Smash Pages contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman continue their end-of-year tradition, looking back at the year in Big Two superhero comics and looking forward to 2016.]

Carla Hoffman: Time to get off the couch, put down the Ben and Jerry’s and stop listening to Moonlight Sonata on repeat, it’s the end of the year! Marvel and DC have cast their nets wide through event books, new titles, TV shows and movies to reel in new readers, viewers and mass market appeal and somebody’s has to sort through it all, sir! For somebody, read: us.

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‘Crisis’ at 30, Part 12

“Someday this war’s going to end,” laments Robert Duvall’s Col. Kilgore to conclude his memorable joyride through 1979’s Apocalypse Now. Similarly, as we come to the final issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths, I find myself longing (just a little) for more panels overstuffed with characters, more conversationally-expository dialogue, and even more stakes-raising plot twists.

Still, Crisis had to end sometime. Last issue introduced the singular timeline and its history. It was the first step into an era that continues to inform DC’s superhero comics. As such, issue #12 — which appeared in comics shops some thirty years ago, during the first week of November 1985 — is about cleaning up the miniseries’ last bits of clutter and getting the merged timeline ready for all its prospective readers. It’s 42 pages of wall-to-wall action, executed skillfully by the creative team.

Dogpile
Dogpile

“Someday this war’s going to end,” laments Robert Duvall’s Col. Kilgore to conclude his memorable joyride through 1979’s Apocalypse Now. Similarly, as we come to the final issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths, I find myself longing (just a little) for more panels overstuffed with characters, more conversationally-expository dialogue, and even more stakes-raising plot twists.

Still, Crisis had to end sometime. Last issue introduced the singular timeline and its history. It was the first step into an era that continues to inform DC’s superhero comics. As such, issue #12 — which appeared in comics shops some thirty years ago, during the first week of November 1985 — is about cleaning up the miniseries’ last bits of clutter and getting the merged timeline ready for all its prospective readers. It’s 42 pages of wall-to-wall action, executed skillfully by the creative team.

Speaking of which, credits: Crisis On Infinite Earths issue 12 was co-plotted, scripted, and edited by Marv Wolfman, co-plotted and pencilled by George Pérez, inked by Jerry Ordway (who also pencilled one page), colored by Tom Ziuko, and lettered by John Costanza. Robert Greenberger was the associate editor and Len Wein was the consulting editor.

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‘Crisis’ at 30, Part 11

Tom Bondurant brings his retrospective on the 30-year-old “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to Smash Pages with a look back at the series’ penultimate issue, which featured “emotional impacts just as devastating as any of its cosmic carnage.”

Buy this quilt on Etsy
Buy this quilt on Etsy

The penultimate issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths offers an interlude critical to the series’ success. It demonstrates the real impact of DC’s housecleaning not with antimatter waves or shadow demons, but through the characters who helped build the publisher’s matchless history. Accordingly, Crisis #11 features emotional impacts just as devastating as any of its cosmic carnage.
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