Category Archives: final crisis

The Death of Batman


So Batman’s dead. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Been there, done that. Superheroes die and superheroes come back to life, it’s a cyclical, almost cliche thing with comic books. Maybe Batman’s dead today, but he’ll be back. After all, he’s been dead before, many many times, in many different versions and many different ways – and he always comes back. Hell, he survived Joel Schumacher, he can survive anything.

The real buzz began just over a year ago when DC Comics announced the next big story arc in Batman would be called, ominously enough, “Batman R.I.P.” It portends much just for a title. Writer Grant Morrison had been on the book for a while and had been mining some old and forgotten stories and concepts with the Batman mythos. It’s something the writer is known for, but he was pulling some weird stuff out of his creative hat, like outlandish stories from the 1950s that had been by and large no longer even considered in continuity. But then again, as I said, it was something that Morrison does best.

There were old 1950s tales that told of a Club of Heroes, inspired by the caped crusader, and so the writer theorized there might also be a Club of Villains with an equal hatred for the Batman. The Villains put together a plan to not only kill Batman but to break him psychologically. I won’t go into the details but they really did a number on the guy, but of course, despite an explosion with no bodies and a torn cowl and cape pulled from the wreckage of a blown-up helicopter – they failed to kill him. We all knew he wasn’t dead. Batman had walked away from worse things than that. The real result was an amazing jigsaw puzzle rollercoaster ride story by Morrison, which I enjoyed the hell out of, despite some scary and screaming bumps along the way. He told a good story, which was his job.

Problem was that folks in the know, people who read more than the comics, but peruse the comics press online, knew that the worst was yet to come. Batman had of course survived and was to be featured in DC Comics’ line-spanning crossover series Final Crisis, and was rumored to really meet his end in issue #6, which dropped this afternoon.

This time it was for real. This time we saw it happen and we see the body. Batman falls in battle with DC’s ultimate villain Darkseid, the self-proclaimed god of evil. While the caped crusader does manage to take out Darkseid, the evil god does the same to the dark knight.

The final issue of Final Crisis will be out roughly a month from now and we’ll see how this all works out. Current plans in the Batman titles indicate a ‘battle for the cowl’ to see who will replace him. Old fanboy and comics geek that I am, I see hints of a possible way out of this death in the pages of FC #6, but I’ll keep them to myself for now – but if I had to put money on it, Bats will be back and is watching to see who does what in his absence.

Batman is dead, long live Batman!

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Wizard World Philly – Sunday


WIZARD WORLD PHILLY

SUNDAY

The day began much earlier than expected with a family breakfast at the Pop Shop, and no argument, it was a pleasant surprise. From there it was prep and travel time to WW Philly.

The first panel of my day was Prize No Prize hosted by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort along with Dan Slott, Molly Lazer, and C.B. Cebulski among others. This trivia contest is a hometown event, having started at WWPhilly two years ago. Grand prize – an advance copy of Secret Invasion #3 and a statue of Captain America, although many cool prizes were given out throughout.

My old Movies Unlimited co-worker Gary did pretty well here, almost as well as he did on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” a few years back. Can you name eight women who dated Peter Parker? How about nine Avengers who have never had their own title? Twelve mutants depowered in House of M? Then you should have been there. Try again next year.

Later I checked out DC Sunday Conversations: For the Love of Comics. I walked in late to what seemed to be an exercise in Dan DiDio (who was running it) asking when we all started reading comics. I have to admit a dislike for DiDio based on previous convention appearances but I also must confess the man showed a genuine warmness and openness during this panel. It’s a better look for him than his usual antics.

The discussion took a turn in the Aqua-direction. DiDio asked the audience, “Who is Aquaman?” and who did we like the most as he cited several examples. About the same amount of folks liked the green glove (original) version as liked the hook-hand version. A couple liked the blue costume. Only a few people liked the water hand Aquaman. Billy Tucci asked if he could breathe his own hand to much laughter.

Stemming from one fan mentioning he liked the writer’s JLA interpretation of the sea king, the talk turned briefly to Grant Morrison and how he can take even the lamest idea or character and make it seem cool. Even electric blue Superman. Somehow this makes me worry about Final Crisis.

Getting back on the Aqua-kick, DiDio mentioned he kinda liked the new Aquagirl quite a bit, and also verified that the latest incarnation of Aquaman was in fact the Golden Age version. It really sounds like DiDio is fishing (sorry, couldn’t help it) for ideas to fix or revamp Aquaman.

Next Dan went around the room asking for folks’ favorite obscure character. Ambush Bug was immediately brought up by my friend Skott Stotland. Others mentioned were G’nort, Vibe, the Metal Men, the female Dr. Light, and then Billy Tucci offered up Lord Malvolio with a story he wants to pitch. For the uninitiated, Lord Malvolio of the Green Flame is a Green Lantern baddie from the old (and much-missed) Action Comics Weekly who wore a copy of Alan Scott’s costume and destroyed Hal Jordan’s power ring.

This prompted DiDio to talk about the three kinds of continuity at DC. There are three levels. The first is immutable, can’t be changed, stuff like Krypton blew up and Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot. There’s a middle level of things that can be altered or played with, and then there’s the third level, where things are ignored or forgotten. He brought up the example of the Paul Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes where Superboy learns the Legionaires are really hundreds of years old. Levitz said of the tale, “I’m not going to undo the story, I’m just never going to mention it again.”

In that third continuity category is where that Legion story goes, as well as the tale of Lord Malvolio. Shame. I’d like to see him come back, especially written by Tucci.

The two Cancelled Comics Cavalcade issues were brought up after someone mentioned the Freedom Fighters as his favorites and thanked DiDio for bringing them back. It took me a moment to process that statement as I don’t think the new version bears much resemblance to the original. What Freedom Fighters comics are you reading, dude?

Anyway, history lesson again – back in the 1970s, the ‘DC Implosion’ when DC expanded at the absolute wrong time and ended up having to cancel about a dozen existing or coming titles. To secure copyright on the cancelled material, DC produced two ‘issues,’ fifty photocopies each, of the stories that were already finished but not slotted to appear elsewhere. Two issues of the 1970s FF title were among them, along with good stuff like Secret Society of Super-Villains, Kamandi, Karate Kid and the first issue of Vixen.

When DiDio first joined DC the first thing he did was get those two issues and find out what happened in those comics from his youth that were never ‘really’ published. Pointing out that memory isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, he noted those stories were crap.

A rather heated and half-joking discussion of who Batman was and if Nightwing should replace him was interrupted when Tom Brevoort came in and gave Dan a comic. Laughing, DiDio told the story of a comic book he couldn’t find as a kid, until he was on the bus to school and saw it on a spinner rack in a store the bus was passing. He got off the bus, bought it and then found he didn’t have enough cash to catch another bus, so he walked to school. That’s the Captain America comic Tom brought to Dan.

Tom B. then joined the panel. The Tiny Titans guys came in later to much applause. That’s when Dan DiDio asked the big question – why would anyone eat food from this building when the Reading Market is right across the street?

Comic Widows colleagues Crystal and Anthony showed up later as things were quieting down. Ran through the floor for some last minute bargains and to say a few hellos and goodbyes, and then called it a day.

Now there have been lots of reports on this con (and others) and personally, reading other accounts, I have to wonder… what con were they at?

Wizard World Philly – Saturday


WIZARD WORLD PHILLY

SATURDAY

After a bit of a late start I met up with Comic Widows co-horts Anthony and Ray. We began with a strategy meeting regarding some interviews planned for the day. And trust me, it was nowhere near as cool as it sounds, but we were taking it pretty seriously.

In the midst of our war council we also interviewed the young lady we were sharing the pressroom with at the time, Nicole Boose. We also learned she was with Marvel editorial and reviewing art portfolios at the con. Very cool lady, and pleasant informative interview.

As the pressroom overlooked the con floor we also did some costume spotting. From our vantage point we got to see quite a few good ones, and of course some bad ones as well. Among the former were several Marvel Girls in the Neal Adams green mini-skirt, a bright-green Riddler, a foam rubber Galactus, what might have been Nightwind from the Legion of Super-Heroes, Dr. Strange, the prerequisite dozen Stormtroopers that show up at every con, and a bald Robin. Also throughout the day there were many others spotted – a pair of Tomb Raiders, Zatanna, the cast of the new Indiana Jones flick, a baby Batgirl, a flat-chested Power Girl, and, ahem, a tranny Power Girl. And then there was also The Blob. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume.

Then we hit the con floor and did a kinda noisy interview with Jared Barel of Loaded Barrel Studios. They do a startling and unique melding of photography and comic art that needs to be seen to be believed. They call it making ‘live-action graphic novels’ and it looks great. Check them out, it’s terrific stuff. I really did like their work, and really, it’s not just because they were giving out Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls at their booth, but let’s be honest, that never hurts. Lessons to learned for other folks with booths at these cons.

After exploring the floor for a bit I ducked into the Crisis Now panel in the midst of questions and answers. Dan DiDio was in the house and mocking and ridiculing the characters we all love as if that was his job. Oh wait.

Several different things were addressed while I was there. When questioned on “Batman RIP,” DiDio repeatedly said in staccato fashion, “Batman dies!” then rescinded, “Batman doesn’t die, but he’s gonna wish he was dead.” Other items – the Milestone characters are not available for DC to use, but never say never. We will see Christopher Kent again. Apparently there is an unannounced Zatanna series coming at some point.

DiDio admitted that 2007 was not a year where everything was clicking as well as possible. And he added that it’s his job to make this year as great as possible. He also confessed that Steve Wacker leaving for Marvel was a huge loss for DC.

The Devil also said that Death of the New Gods was a celebration of Jack Kirby’s work on the New Gods. Wtf? Kill them to celebrate them? In answer to the next question, DiDio stated that Final Crisis will involve all Flashes. A fan asked “Even Bart?” and DiDio answered “All Flashes.” Just don’t kill Jay Garrick like you killed the Martian Manhunter, okay? Bastards. And during the lightning round he answered “Yes.” to the question of whether barry Allen was coming back.

Same room, a bit later, Cup O’ Joe with Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, standing room only, much like the DC panel before it. In attendance – (duh) Joey Q, Fred Van Lente, C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort and another person whose name I didn’t catch – he didn’t talk much and ran the slide show though. The slide show announced Marvel Zombies 3 where the fan fave monsters invade the Marvel Universe proper, due in September.

Old news came with slides depicting the new Devil-Slayer series by horror novelist Brian Keene and Stephen King’s The Stand also starting in September. Mystery pics of Lady Bullseye followed (and of course quickly leaked to the internet) who Ed Brubaker is introducing in Daredevil. Nice art, but seemingly just a female version of Bullseye. Yawn.

Um, who brought the baby to a panel? Who brought a baby to a convention? Please just make it stop crying. Great parenting there, folks. Although he/she stopped crying, I wondered if the wonder-parents were still in the room when J.Q. dropped an F-bomb later on in the hour.

Then came, predictably, questions and answers. There will be more Squadron Supreme, written by Howard Chaykin, with a demented twist, and Greg Land on covers. And no, Land on covers is not the twist. Speaking of twisted, there’s been a big secret in the undercurrent of the Ultimate Universe, to be revealed in Ultimate Origins. Something major in their lives is a huge falsehood. Maybe the secret of why Ultimates 3 is so late will be revealed.

More “One More Day” backlash reared its ugly head and Joe explained that all of Spider-Man’s history is intact, save that he and Mary Jane didn’t get married on their wedding day. Something happened and that story just hasn’t been told yet. Joe says he’s seen it and it’s great. In response to another question, Tom B said that Peter and his Aunt May did in fact live at Avengers Tower. Some racy humor about May and Skrull Jarvis followed unfortunately. Either way, Joe and Tom certainly seem tired of doing OMD damage control; it’s in their faces.

My friend Ray hit Joe Q with a good one. He referenced the difference between two Jack Kirby reprint volumes, one from DC and one from Marvel – the difference is that DC paid the Kirby estate royalties and Marvel did not. Joe kinda dodged the question, saying that he doesn’t discuss Marvel policy in public. He added that Marvel is currently working with the Kirby estate and that should speak for itself.

Other items included that Baron Zemo was coming back, and a new Thunderbolts writer has been chosen but unannounced – could these be related and Fabian Nicieza is coming back? There is a Runaways film in development with Brian K. Vaughn involved. There are possible plans for the female Bucky from the Onslaught universe. The sequel to Marvels is coming in October. Whoever is left at the end of The Twelve will remain part of the present MU.

Quesada coined the term “Marvel lifestyle” for the fact that now Marvel does their own comics, movies and videogames – in response to a question about digital comics. I like it. Joe also claimed that he thought Spider-Man 3 was a pretty good movie. “Maybe one villain too many.” Wow, you said a mouthful, Joe.

At the close of the panel, the 18 carat gold Iron Man cellphone was given away. Over $1500 was raised for the Hero Initiative on the raffle for it. Great job, folks!

At this point, I was toast and had to go home, home to my super-cool Avengers glass that the Bride had gotten for me earlier in the day, and home to the Bride too, of course. But I’ll leave you with another quote, this one a bit dated, but it was shouted by a guy in a Nightwing t-shirt exiting the men’s room earlier this afternoon. “Hey, I found Ray Palmer!”

Wizard World Philly – Friday

FRIDAY

Well, I will say this right off the bat, getting in was a hell of a lot easier this time than previous years. I might even go so far as to say it was a pleasure. One hopes it goes as well tomorrow and Sunday when it tends to be much busier.

Upon entering the show floor that Wizard seemed to be so proud to fill earlier in the week, the one thing I noticed is that it seemed both empty and sparse. I’m sure that will change. Or not. I did learn later in the day that the place was so empty because hundreds of folks were still waiting in the VIP lines. Many were there for an extended amount of time apparently.

At the DC booth I saw that they were giving away copies of DC Universe #0. That’s right, for free. The book that originally sold for fifty cents and will be sold in reprint for a dollar, was free. I’ll leave you to formulate your own opinion on that.

The Mondo Marvel panel was first and included Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Dan Slott, Greg Pak, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Reed, Duane Swierczynski, Fred Van Lente and was hosted by Joe Quesada. Immediately they threw out the new ideas coming from the House of Ideas. There’s a new X-Men miniseries called Manifest Destiny, a new Deadpool series, Greg Pak’s new origin of Magneto, yawn. Then they brought up Age of the Sentry, a limited series by Jeff Parker featuring a retro look at the Sentry’s Silver Age adventures.

Other than the Sentry deal, there is a noticeable lack of Avengers, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man news. And a sparse showing as well, due to the VIP thing, but then again it is the first panel of the day. Many things were discussed in an extended question and answer session, including one fact from the lips of editor Tom Brevoort, “Mary Jane (Watson-Parker) is not a Skrull.”

A fan who didn’t like the new FF by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch inspired an intriguing response from Brevoort in that not every comic will click with every reader, and that he was sorry it wasn’t working for the fan. Wow. I wonder if that kind of honesty could have come from, say, Dan DiDio?

Speak of the devil, after hanging out a bit with some friends, I attended the DC Nation panel. This panel was mostly held in dim light as host, DC Senior Editor Ian Sattler, didn’t want to be blinded by the spotlights used in previous panels. It should be noted that he never told us who was on the panel, but it did include J.G. Jones, Jimmy Palmiotti, Shane Davis, Art Baltazar and possibly Ethan Van Sciver among others. Like I said, who knows who was there – we were never told.

And although the panel was without introductions, the audience response to the slide show was very positive. It was noted that Final Crisis: Superman Beyond would be partially in 3-D. And of course the Power Girl slide couldn’t pass by without at least one inferred boob joke. Sigh. There are just to many men in comics. Too bad Amanda Conner wasn’t there. And from Palmiotti’s description of the series, I hate to say because I’m really looking forward to it, it sounds an awful lot like the way Brian Reed describes his Ms. Marvel.

And then the questions and some answers followed. A fan question regarding “Batman R.I.P.,” brought up that no one has said that the caped crusader is going to die. No one knows what’s really going to happen, including a few of the folks on the mystery panel.

Another fan, who said he was a DC reader for more than four decades, brought up how dumb a villain Libra was – an opinion I personally don’t agree with by the way, and like him I also read the original Libra story when it first hit the stands. He asked specifically what is the reaction when someone says for the biggest story of the year, here’s Libra, an obscure lame villain. The answer – it depends on who suggests it.

An unnamed artist on the panel, possibly Shane Davis or maybe Ethan Van Sciver, said he’s been begging to do an Aquaman revival. He said he asks once a week, and that he walks into DiDio’s office holding a trident sometimes he wants it so bad.

Other questions yielded the following answers. Sue Dibny will be seen in the upcoming Final Crisis: Reign in Hell miniseries. Despite rumors to the contrary, Jim Shooter is still writing Legion of Super-Heroes, Rich Johnston be damned apparently. J.G. Jones verified that his script for Final Crisis #1 says that “Libra spears the Martian Manhunter through the chest and kills him.” Bastards.

Also today I got to hang with some folks I don’t usually get to hang with as often as I like. Good friends and fellow Comic Widows staffers Anthony and Andrea were both on hand. I also hung with Abraham of the Avengers Forever Forum, and I also got to say hello to Michelle who I haven’t seen in ages and finally got to meet her husband Joe. Good times.

I’ll leave you folks with a quote for today, overheard on the convention floor. There were two older women browsing one of the t-shirt walls of an exhibitor and one said to the other, “Look, another Wonder Woman! I had no idea she was so popular!” Gotta love it.

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