Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kirk's Soapbox - A Collection of Random Thoughts, Vol 4

Welcome to another edition of Kirk's Soapbox: A Collection of Random Thoughts.  Today, I'll be discussing an assortment of topics, from more musings on Earth One and OGN's to the possible (ie non-existent) cancellation of Incredible Hercules and even the announcement of what I labelled a joke in yesterday's Girl Comics announcement.  Hit the jump for my collection of random thoughts!

Earth-One Page Count & Pricing Revealed and both have Superman: Earth One listed and priced at $19.99 US, but the Canadian site is also showing the page count at 128 pages.  The release date was also listed as September 7, 2010, a far cry from an early 2010 showing that many expected.  I know I was thinking a spring release date.  However, Batman has yet to show up in the listings, so it may be filling in the first half of the year, but I would imagine it would show up on Amazon first if it was in fact coming out earlier.

For commentary on the format, it looks like the Joker OGN from last year was testing the waters for Earth One and that they will follow a similar pricing and page count model.  As you can purchase Joker for about $10-13 with discounts and based on how has Superman: Earth-One already discounted for pre-orders, it looks like these will offer a nice bang for your buck. 

Original Graphic Novels

Speaking of original graphic novels, I commented on them briefly in the original Earth One announcement and wanted to discuss them in a little more detail here. I believe I came off a little overly negative in regards to the whole Earth One announcement, primarily with my extensive commentary on retreading the origins again, but I just want to say that I commend DC for taking the initiative with their OGNs.

OGN's are NOT simply trades that forego the whole monthly periodical distribution model.  They offer a much more fluid story than the typical trade paperback and can be venues for unique story telling opportunities.

For instance, I recently re-read Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile when I was doing our Holiday Gift Guide and considering what trades to recommend.  Fables, a posterchild for the singles financing trades model which then do the real money making for the series, would not make a good OGN.  The reasoning?  Many of the previous issues are recapped on the very next page of the story, which is due to ending on cliffhangers or helping people who did not pick up those earlier issues and letting them know what's going on.

Reading it in one sitting, this is jarring and takes you out of the story.  You want to skip those pages because you literally just read the issues it is recapping.  It is the main reason I recommended people start with the stand alone OGN, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall.  It is a far superior read with much better flow and you can tell it was designed as a OGN and not as individual issues for periodical distribution.

That's not to say that this is the only benefit of the OGN model.  It also makes for great gateway reading.  You can pick up many classic OGN's from Marvel, such as X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, The Death of Captain Marvel, Emperor Doom or Dr Strange/Dr Doom: Triumph & Torment, which aren't 100-page monster OGN's like the proposed Earth One titles yet are still valid OGN's in their own right, and see how something as simple as a cohesive plot, lack of major continuity or event driven monthly storytelling can lead to new and powerful stories.

As such, I'm very much in favour of more OGN's and, while not a big fan of revisiting both Superman's and Batman's origins to kick off Earth One, I will still be buying both titles just to show my support for the medium and DC's attempt to find new venues beyond the monthly periodical.

What Noh-Varr's New Costume Should Have Been

It appears, based on what most people on the interwebs were saying, that I was not alone in thinking Noh-Varr's new Captain Marvel costume (link is to the MotW containing an image of the new costume) needed some fine tuning.  If it were up to me, the above costume, or a slight variation of it, would have been his new costume. 

The Ultimate DC Universe

With all the Earth One talk and how it's the "Ultimate DC Universe", I wanted to remind everyone of a time when Wizard posted interested articles and their magazine was worth reading - ie. when they did their own version of the Ultimate DC Universe:

Ultimate Superman

THE ORIGIN: Rocketed from the dying planet Krypton, a lone baby lands in a Smallville, Kansas field. Adopted by Martha and Jonathan Kent, the infant is raised like any other child, but the Kents soon learn their adopted son Clark is anything but ordinary. Under the Earth's yellow sun, he's developed powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

THE CHARACTER: It's six years removed from the world of TV's Smallville, where Clark, Lex Luthor and Lana Lang all grew up together as friends. Clark's just graduated from Kansas State University and has been offered an entry-level job at the Daily Planet.

SUPPORTING CAST: Lana's still Clark's girlfriend and one of the few people who knows about his extraordinary powers. But his long-distance relationship with Lana (who still resides in Smallville) is strained as Clark grows closer to fellow Planet reporter Lois Lane. Lois, a tenacious and clever reporter, is also the protege of Planet senior writer Perry White, the man who mentors Lois and Clark in both their work and personal lives. And just as Clark settles in Metropolis, billionaire industrialist Lex Luthor reemerges after a four-year disappearance from public life. Although Clark looks forward to seeing his old friend from Smallville, something has clearly made Lex more intense, but Lex isn't talking.

THE SET UP: After learning to control and master his powers while growing up in Smallville, Clark Kent moves to Metropolis and dons a costume to help protect the world as Superman, a name Perry White gives him after seeing him save a sabotaged Air Force One.

THE FIRST ARC: Superman wasn't the only thing to escape Krypton. An artificial intelligence program developed by Jor-El, Superman's father, also reached Earth. Calling itself Brainiac I, the super-computer sets its sights on turning Earth into New Krypton - just as soon as it undoes the "damage" done to Krypton's Last Son by those who raised him human.

THE BIG PICTURE: As Clark tries to reestablish his friendship with Lex, he doesn't realize that Lex knows he's Superman! The catch: Lex refuses to admit it to himself. Lex feels that if Clark - who represents Lex's only tether to a humanity that has constantly betrayed him - has been lying to him their entire lives, it's Superman who has to pay the price.

Ultimate Batman

THE ORIGIN: Fifteen years ago, a 7-year-old Bruce Wayne watched helplessly as a two-bit crook gunned down his parents. As the young Wayne was shipped off to private schools, a young detective named James Gordon would be assigned to the case. It proves to be the one case he could never solve.
Fifteen years later, a changed Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham. Having all but disappeared from the public eye for the last few years, Wayne secretly trained himself to wage a one-man war on crime as the masked urban myth called Batman.

THE CHARACTER: Not the billionaire boob that so many fans are used to, Wayne's trained himself not just as the Dark Knight but also as a shrewd businessman. One of the wealthiest men in the world, Wayne's closest business rival is another young gun - Lex Luthor.

SUPPORTING CAST: Alfred Pennyworth represents the only family Wayne has left: An English manservant who served the Waynes for over 25 years, Alfred plays confidant, medic and sometimes psychiatrist to the man he thinks of as a son. In James Gordon's long career, the image of young Wayne weeping over his parents' lifeless bodies haunted him: After 20 years on the job, he ascends to police commissioner by turning the tables on the corrupt Gotham police force, using their own blackmail and strong-arm tactics against them. At Gordon's side stands Harvey Dent, Gotham's hotshot district attorney, who grew up with Bruce before the murders. Dent's engaged to Gordon's daughter, Barbara, a grad school student who can't resist combing for Internet reports of the mysterious Batman's nocturnal assault on crime.

THE SET-UP: After training for over a decade, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham, and dons the cape and cowl of the Batman. Striking an alliance with Commissioner Gordon - despite D.A. Dent's protests - the Dark Knight sets out to set things right in Gotham City.

THE FIRST ARC: As Batman and Gordon wage war against Gotham's mob families, they learn someone has beaten them to it. Calling himself The Joker, this mysterious clown-themed vigilante's campaign on crime kills capos, criminals and any innocents who get in the way. Batman must match wits with this darker version of himself who's better at this game than he is.

THE BIG PICTURE: Batman's stellar cast of rogues will be introduced slowly and menacingly. Two growing subplots will culminate with issue #50, as Wayne fights Lex Luthor's hostile takeover of his company, and as Batman, he once again confronts the Joker, who's learned that the high-tech Dark Knight could be only one man underneath that mask.

I found the images online with a quick search and just typed out the old article.  They had reimaginings for Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and the JLA, all of which were rather inspired, all things considered.

Many will scream blasphemy at this, but I particularly like the changes to Superman's costume above.  I think it looks more alien and modern, yet instantly recognizable as the Superman we all know and love.

For Batman, he looks more urban and almost paramilitary in origin, which is what you would expect of someone waging a one-man war on crime in the streets with an unlimited amount of resources to outfit himself as such.  It's hard to tell, but it looks like Gary Frank thought the same thing as his Earth One Batman design is strikingly similar to this Ultimate DC version.

Even the decisions for the premises to these Ultimate versions were unique offerings and streamlined.  I've always hoped DC would try and emulate or adapt this Wizard article's choices for a potential Ultimate Universe, so reading those Earth One interviews about the relatively benign changes they'll be making really irked me when they could do so much more while still being faithful.

I Thought I Was Joking...

...when I mentioned how silly calling a comic Black Comics would be in my post about Girl Comics yesterday, but looks like I was wrong - "1st Encyclopedia of Black Comics" announced.

Incredible Hercules is NOT Cancelled

For those relying on a rumour site for news detailing the cancellation of Incredible Hercules to coincide with an issue not set for release for another year or so, just want to let you know that Incredible Hercules is NOT cancelled.  Don't believe me?  From the mouth of iHerc writer, Fred Van Lente,

INCREDIBLE HERC fans: The rumors of our demise are premature-- See Mar 2010 solicits (& spread the word)
So, there you have it, Hercules lives on (though there is that mysterious teaser image we were asked not to show back on FVL Day at CBR that raises a lot of questions).

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mugiwara said...

Encyclopedia of black comics by comics historian Professor William H Foster III?
As in Bill Foster?

Matt Ampersand said...

That mysterious teaser image that we are not allowed to show IS rather ominous, but in FVL/PAK we trust. Hercules is my favorite ongoing title, and I hope it doesn't go away any time soon.

Isn't that Captain Marvel costume basically the Ult. version with the black stars/space motif?

As for the Earth One pricing, I think it is too high for the page count, and it shouldn't have been a hardcover. Yes, it is true that online retailers and the like do offer discounts, but the whole point of it is/was supposed to attract casual readers. If you see an Earth One book sitting in a bookshelf in Borders/Barnes and Noble, it is still going to have the 19.99 tag.

PMMJ said...

mugiwara, looks like a coincidence:

Hoylus said...

This is a thread with all the ultimate DC pics from Wizard...

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