What I’ve Been Reading (July 2020)

Another month, another “What I’ve Been Reading” (yeah, I renamed it). This time, the comics industry is properly restarted, which is nice… then DC did their distributor thing which makes re-ordering trades awkward (and screws over retailers)… and now we’re in the middle of event nonsense with DC’s Dark Nights: Death Metal and Marvel’s Empyre… so yeah, so my comic reading is still mostly trades, which is what these posts are about, essentially — older stuff I’m reading, usually in trade, which I give my very quick and casual opinions on (and I guess it’s also now also a general blog update thing), which is harder when Australian comic stores are having trouble getting some DC trades.

Oh yeah, I’m including manga I’m reading on this too now. I got back into reading manga late last year and have kept up with it fairly well. It’s sequential art, even if manga has different conventions to Western comics, so why not? Also, so I can have more non-superhero stuff on here, because it’d probably come off as kinda one-note if that’s all that was on here.

Anyway, here’s what I spent my time reading in July as I braced myself for uni to start again and the upcoming X of Swords crossover to begin, which I will be reading.

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Passing the Baton — Who Should Write The Flash Next?

After finishing my “In the Hood” post about good candidates for the next writer of Red Hood, it occured to me that Joshua Williamson’s run on The Flash is also ending soon. In fact, a month sooner than Scott Lobdell’s Red Hood, so… yeah, I’m going to put together a wishlist for Comic Book Santa and hope he delivers!

Joshua Williamson’s run on The Flash began in 2016, with the advent of the DC Rebirth initiative. Initially promising an examination of the DCU and a return of the Flash characters lost as a result of the New 52, it instead became this strange holding pattern, as DC’s plans were delayed and changed, and other series influenced what Williamson could really do with the title. It also had this weird fixation with tearing down Barry Allen as a character by having him repeatedly fail, having characters call him out on his mistakes and just shitting on him in general… and then never really did anything with that. Barry just… kept making mistakes. I’m not the character’s biggest fan, and the guy barely has a personality, but it became very hard to read and I only recently hopped back on.

The series had two, almost barely related stories. One focused on the Speed Force and the wider Flash mythos, introducing new characters like Godspeed, Avery Ho and Paradox while heavily featuring Eobard Thawne’s return. The other was focused on the Rogues and turning them into generic villains as they and Barry finally stopped “playing around” and got serious about their jobs. The Speed Force-heavy stories were very hit-or-miss, but played with the mythos in some interesting ways, while the Rogues stories were… not good, being average at best.

With the DCU seemingly working out its kinks after the conclusion of Doomsday Clock, the advent of Dark Nights: Death Metal which seems to be leading into a big semi-reboot by working in elements of the cancelled Generations series, and Williamson’s final story, “Finish Line”, promising a return of the Flash Family proper, I’m going to look at some creators who I feel, unburdened by the need to reintroduce missing elements of Flash mythos, could write some entertaining Flash stories and why I think they could. Just like with “In the Hood”, I’ll be trying to keep these reasonable and probably avoid anyone who’s had a run on the title already, as much as Mark Waid or Geoff Johns returning would be fun.

Anyway, here we go.

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In the Hood — Who Should Be the Next Red Hood Writer?

Scott Lobdell’s run on Red Hood and the OutlawsRed Hood/Arsenal and Red Hood: Outlaw is coming to an end. For the majority of the 2010s, Lobdell has been the driving force behind the stories told with Jason Todd, the second Robin and then Red Hood. I can’t say I’m sad to see it end, because I’ve always felt that Lobdell took an interesting character and boiled him down to his lowest common denominator appeal — this is not helped by the likely reason behind Lobdell leaving.

For those who don’t know, Jason Todd was the second Robin and famously was killed by the Joker. He returned to life and took up the identity of the Red Hood and was a Batman villain because he couldn’t get over how Bruce Wayne never killed the Joker for all he’d done — clearly also tied to his own daddy issues with Bruce. He would also go on to menace Dick Grayson during his Batman tenor before the New 52 clumsily reintegrated him into the Bat-family, and he has since been primarily written as a largely generic anti-hero bad boy by Scott Lobdell. It has not been a good run for most people, and every fan of the character I know has welcomed this news and has been waiting for a change of writer for years.

I’m going to talk about who I feel should be handed the reins to Jason Todd’s character. Some will be obvious, some less so, but these are creators who I feel would do Jason Todd justice. These aren’t writers who I feel would really be replicating Lobdell’s style or even be the types to have him be aligned with the Bat-family, if they had a choice. These are just writers who I feel would do well with the character.

I want these to be at least somewhat reasonable, so I’m not going to throw, like, Brian Michael Bendis on here or something — these are creators who I could actually see writing a good Red Hood ongoing, and I’ll explain why. Continue reading “In the Hood — Who Should Be the Next Red Hood Writer?”

What I’m Reading (29th of June, 2020)

With COVID-19 putting a lot of entertainment on hold and the comic book industry justifiably having took its time to get started up again, I ended up taking the time to read a bunch of older comics. Some of those didn’t work out, while others I’ve stuck with… in pretty big ways. So, here are my thoughts on the older stuff (well, old enough to not be current, anyway) stuff that I’m reading or read recently that I felt was worth talking about. Unlike my reviews, these are quick and dirty and very stream of consciousness… also, typed up on my phone, probably in bed or on public transport.

This time, there’s some sword and sorcery, a sprinkle of cyberpunk and a lot of grittiness.

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Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 19 — X-Men #7

Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, sometimes spotlighting a specific scene or moment, followed by my opinion on any X-news. It’s what happens when a long-time X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience (and graphics).

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The Good and Bad of Dan DiDio

I’ve been working on a post about the state of DC Comics for a while now, and it was an informal rant more than anything. Then news broke that Dan DiDio was no longer employed at DC Comics.

There’s been a variety of reactions. Industry professionals have almost nothing but kind words to say about the man. Fan response has generally been more positive to the news, given his known unpopularity amongst DC fans. There are reasons for both groups to say what they say and things that need to be taken into account when reading those things, from professional courtesy to misaimed fan outrage.

I’m not here to talk about that. Instead, I want to look at some of the notable things that happened under Dan DiDio’s tenure at DC as executive editor and co-publisher, the good and bad. Then you can judge for yourself if his tenure was one worth celebrating or lamenting, or a mix of both. While it’s always hard to determine who had a hand in what at the Big Two, in the positions he occupied, he was a key figure in shaping the DCU and approving what happened.

Note that I’m not including most things that happened under DC Rebirth, which screamed that it was Geoff Johns’ baby more than DiDio’s, and which was almost immediately shifted away from once Johns left his position as Chief Creative Officer at DC.

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Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 18 — X-Men #6

Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, sometimes spotlighting a specific scene or moment, followed by my opinion on any X-news. It’s what happens when a long-time X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience (and graphics).

Continue reading “Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 18 — X-Men #6”

Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 17 — X-Men #5

Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, sometimes spotlighting a specific scene or moment, followed by my opinion on any X-news. It’s what happens when a long-time X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience (and graphics).

Continue reading “Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 17 — X-Men #5”

My Thoughts on Dawn of X Wave 1

With a new year comes a new wave of Dawn of X. The Dawn of X relaunch came about from the status quo set up by Jonathan Hickman in House of X and Powers of X, exploring whatever Hickman didn’t want to in his core X-Men book. I’m still looking at that series over in Hanging with the HiX-Men, but what about the other titles?

I have been reading them, but I was unsure about how I’d tackle them. Whether they’d be part of Hanging with the HiX-Men or even if I would cover certain series. Eventually that snowballed into me just being very, very late with Hanging with the HiX-Men and I decided that briefer looks at all of the series would be for the best.

With the second wave of Dawn of X titles about to begin with Wolverine and the first six issues of the current series having been released, now is a good time to give my thoughts on the first wave. I’ve read all currently released issues of each of these series, six each, which is a more than fair amount of issues to gauge the series’ quality and form a founded opinion. Unlike my regular reviews, this will be much more informal, but I wanted to get these thoughts out quick.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on Excalibur, Fallen Angels, Marauders, New Mutants and X-Force.

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Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 16 — X-Men #4

Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, sometimes spotlighting a specific scene or moment, followed by my opinion on any X-news. It’s what happens when a long-time X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience (and graphics).

Continue reading “Hanging with the HiX-Men, Part 16 — X-Men #4”