Tag Archives: Wally West

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow. Check out part 19: the Flash. Check out part 20: Animal Man.

What were the final scores?

In order from least points to most, the scores were:

Iron Man: 1.0666666  points
Phantom Stranger: 3 points
John Constantine: 4 points
Hulk (Mr. Fixit): 4 points
Captain America: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Green Lantern: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Aquaman: 4.5 points
Luke Cage: 4.5 points
Black Canary: 4.5 points
Thor: 5 points
Wolverine: 5 points
Hulk (Smart Hulk): 5 points
Green Arrow: 5 points
Wonder Woman: 5.5 points
Batman: 5.5 points (1 bonus point)
Power Girl: 6 points
Static: 6.5 points
Spider-Man: 7 points
Hulk (Savage Hulk): 7 points
Animal Man: 7 points
Superman: 7 points (1 bonus point)
The Flash: 7.33 1/3 points (1 bonus point)

Before I comment, I want to make a critique of my methods. 

Justice League

Justice League (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, my categories were too binary. There is a large difference, for example, between the worldview of Animal Man and the worldview of Luke Cage, but the binary “yes or no” did not leave much room for exploring that. In fact, I admit I fudged the numbers a bit by using decimals when that binary became too restrictive. If I were to revisit this series again, I would use a scale of some sort, not a yes/no.

Second, this list is nowhere near as diverse as I would have liked. While I did speak about race and gender to some degree, there remains a lack of diversity on my list. Given unlimited time and energy for this project, I should have included Cyborg, Steel, Storm, Black Panther, Falcon, Batgirl/Oracle, Supergirl, Katana, Black Lightning, Vibe, Stargirl, and others as representatives of minorites. But instead, I chose the representatives that I already had some affection for, and contrasted them with the more standard heroes of the Avengers and Justice League.

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...

The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third, there are doubtless many other heroes that I could have reviewed that would have scored much higher than those represented here, and certainly there are heroes that are not represented that are fan-favorites of people very near and dear to me. To you folk, I apologize. I simply ran out of steam for the job, and people were already threatening to boycott Political Jesus if I continued, lol. So perhaps one day, I will give Blue Beetle, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Gambit, Nightwing, and Boris the Beat their due, but it won’t be today.

Conclusion:

Having said all that, I believe that I am in no shape to give a whole-hearted devotion to a super-hero the way I have done for Green Lantern in the past. In dissecting these heroes over the last few months, I have gained an appreciation for them beyond how they fit into my categories. Phantom Stranger and Constantine rated very low, but why do I enjoy reading them so much? Thor rated fairly high, but I have little desire to read his book monthly just because he did well on my list.

Still, there were a few heroes that really outshone the competition and made me appreciate who they are. Spider-Man and Superman are heroes that have always been in my periphery. I tend not to like more mainstream heroes. But I simply cannot deny that they represent the best of who we want to be. I am now committed to diving into their stories a bit more over the coming year. I was surprised Hulk rated so high, but Hulk has always been a favorite of mine, especially in his Savage (childlike) persona.

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, ...

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, #1 (April 2010). Art by Tony Harris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The true front-runner (no pun intended) however, is the Flash. He surprised me. I have been reading a lot of these heroes in preparation for this blog, but I was really struck by the Flash in a way that the others didn’t strike me. In particular, his boundless hope and his humanization of even his enemies, and unwillingness to settle for anything other than the best outcome was truly inspiring. And I don’t mind saying that this is coming at a great time for Flash fans, who have a TV show on the horizon, a great comic to follow, a whole slew of t-shirts to wear, and a new advocate on Political Jesus. The new Flash fan – ME!

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow.

Flash (Barry Allen)

Flash (Barry Allen) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Flash is no stranger to comics fans, and has been a staple of the medium long before his re-introduction signaled the dawn of the Silver Age of Comics in 1962. With a catchy name, a simple costume, and ability to run at super speeds, this “fastest man alive” has been capturing the imaginations of fans for a long time now. The Flash even had a short-lived TV show in the 80’s and is now poised to have another TV show coming up, already in the works for the CW.

Who is the Flash?

The Flash has had many incarnations, but the most popular and most well known is Barry Allen. Barry is a police forensic investigator. He works in a crime lab. One day, he was working on a case when lightning crashed into his lab, knocking over hyper-charged chemicals onto him. Ever after, he has had the power to run nearly as fast as he wants to and has devoted his life to doing good.

Is this character heroic? Resolutely. Barry always does the right thing. He is yet another example of the superhero who has all of the power to save others, but simply can’t seem to salvage his own social life or prevent disaster in his own sphere. Yet he never stops and always searches for ways to help those who can’t help themselves.  (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Well, I am really struggling to find what I want to say here. In one sense, since he works for the police department, he literally “represents” the powers. Yet, he is constantly subversive to those in power at his precinct. He also has shown that in those cased where the powers turn “evil,” he resists them with all his might. Yet, it can’t be denied that he has an overly optimistic view of the world, and that can lead him, right or wrong, to give the benefit of the doubt to others, even the powers. I’ll throw Flash a bone, but I can’t give a full point. (.33 1/3 points)

Does this character kill? No. In fact, he goes out his way NOT to. He is another one of those heroes that simply refuses to accept that killing someone is the only possible way to achieve a good. The Flash, probably more than any other hero, is committed to applying creativity to every problem and is always successful, or at least is willing to accept the consequences of not killing. And there have been consequences. (1 point)

Does this character have a spirituality? Flash really came into his own during that era where religion wasn’t talked about so much. So, he really hasn’t gotten into his own religious preferences much. While he is a consummate scientist, this does not automatically indicate that he is a strict materialist or agnostic. In fact, the evidence is scarce, but does indicate that Barry is, or was at least raised in, a Christian home, and holds at least a cultural grasp on those values. He has been seen in various incarnations getting married in Christian churches and throughout the years has never disparaged religion of any type. But, there is something else to consider. Flash’s powers have their source in what is called the Speed Force. The Speed Force has acted in the Flash’s comics as a sort of higher power/afterlife/universal truth for the Flash to philosophize against, and so surprisingly, the Flash’s comics are filled with a lot of spiritual questions and dialogue, but in the context of this supernatural phenomenon particular to the Flash. So yeah, I think that qualifies.
(1 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Absolutely. One of the Flash’s greatest strengths is that his stories are often easy for writers to pen. That is not to say that lazy writers can’t tell bad stories about Flash. Trust me, they can. But it is to say that his powerset, his relationship with his city and its people, and his rogues gallery are all top notch. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes. The Flash has always had a number of others that have shared the spotlight with him. his oft-sidekick Kid Flash is as much the hero of the book as Flash has been, his on/off romance with Iris West allows her to be her own woman as well as a love interest (point of note: Flash is currently dating Patty Spivot, a well-formed character who he works with). His rogues gallery, once again, is among the best in comics, probably only behind Batman and Spiderman, and they are all FULLY fleshed out characters in their own right, thanks to brilliant writers over the years. It isn’t just the writers, though. Flash’s penchant for hope and optimism allow these characters room to grow, as we will see below.  (1 point)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Yep. Just ask Sheldon Cooper.  (1 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yes. Yes. This is the thing I like most about Flash. I cannot think of another hero that goes so far out of their way not only to  stop villains, not only to not kill them, but also to make every effort to try to redeem them. The Flash is always trying to humanize his rogues gallery, trying to see things from their perspective. He not only tries to help stop them from their crimes, but also tries to help them become better people. He knows them on a personal level. While Spider-Man might be funny as he beats down his foes, Flash is sympathetic, and has even been shown to visit his villains in jail, even reforming them on occasion to become good guys (Pied Piper). This is true gospel stuff, folks. The Flash cares about all things, and hopes for all good things.  (1 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? The Flash’s powers make his stories amazing with potential. He can run so fast that he breaks the speed of light, making time-travel stories possible, if not always common. He often plays with physics and (Flash fact:) we often learn something about the world when he uses his powers in a specific way. Like I said above, even mediocre writers should be able to mine good stories out of his powers.  (1 point)

 

Verdict: 7.33 1/3 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Animal Man…

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Savage Nerdery: Week 3 of DC’s new 52: Simulblog Reviews

The following is a simulblog. You can read about this week’s new DC Genesis from Josh Toulouse’s Fat-Train here, and from Justin Tiemeyer’s Caveman-Go here. If you chose, you can also read what Arthur the Lesser has chimed in with here. Here are the links to Week ZeroWeek One, and Week Two, with links to the others as well.

This is week 3 of the new DCU relaunch,  I have to admit to a sense of unease coming into this week after last week’s so-so showing, but I was pleasantly surprised. Only 12 books this week (because Justice League will find its permanent slot here during the third week of the month after the initial reboot). May the God of comic books cause the road to the shop rise up to meet you. May he put plenty of gas in your tank, and plenty of friends to share books with.

*********Spoilers to follow: Ye have been warned.************

 

First, the books that I apparently disagree with others about:

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1

All of the bad things that people are saying about this book are correct. It completely objectifies Starfire, multiple times. She is sexually independent to the point of being a bit of a slave to her sexual freedom, if you know what I mean.  However, there are things I really like about this book.

First, there is a nod to Teen Titans continuity, and a mysterious nod, to boot. At one point, Red Arrow asks Starfire about her prior relationship with Nightwing, she acts as if she has never heard of him, nor any of her previous Titan teammates. Some call this rediculous, I am calling it now, that she does remember, but for some reason is avoiding it. Plot device, not memory hole. Still, in the list of people that Roy asks her to remember (none of which she admits to), Wally West is not in the list. Hmmm…. Is Wally (Kid Flash/Flash) West going to make it into the new universe at all? Also, Roy asks her about Dustin. Who the hell is Dustin? A new mystery to stack onto the new 52. Can’t wait to find out.

Second, there are some really funny moments to this book. I enjoyed the banter between Red Hood and Red Arrow quite a bit. At one point, Red Hood confesses to rescuing Red Arrow because, “If anything happened to you, then I would officially be the worst ex-sidekick.” Then a mental note pops up for Red Hood, “Too far?” Roy’s mental note pops up and says, “Too far.” That was almost worth the $3 for me.

Third, this is another example of how DC is diversifying their characters. There has never before been a book where all of the members are gingers. Yep! All three characters in this book are carrot-tops. It might fool you, because Jason dyes his hair black, but if you know your stuff, you know that Jason Todd is, in fact, a ginger, just like Roy and Starfire.

Verdict: To see the all-ginger team at it once again, I will give it another month.

 

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1: DEADMAN

This was a great book. Of course, there was a lot of exposition and not too much action, but the questions that the book was asking were all the right ones for me. This was a good introduction to the character of Deadman for those who have never read about him, and the pacing and overall story were really tight.

There was no mention of two things though that made me scratch my head. First, no mention of his resurrection in Brightest day. Granted, this is a reboot, and so it probably wouldn’t be appropriate, but since his relationship with Dove is mentioned in Hawk and Dove, and since they got together because of Brightest Day, I want a few answers. But I can wait.

The book centers on a guy who is dead, but can hop back and forth into people’s bodies, a la Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap. He makes their lives better and then hops out. But recently, the people he is being sent to don’t seem to get better. The last page ensured I will be back for next issue.

Since this is an anthology book, Deadman won’t stick around after a few issues. Which is great. I LOVE anthology comics. I can’t wait to see who is next, and for completion’s sake, I will get the whole run of this book.

Verdict: Good. But I would keep buying it anyway.

Now the ones that didn’t do it for me.

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

Imagine Dr. Manhattan. Now erase his junk. How erase that symbol on his head. Then give him more metallic blue skin, and a red symbol on his chest. Then make him a military man instead of a scientist. Viola! Captain Atom.

Plot: My powers are killing me. I can do anything though. I still have to save the world. It looks like I am dying now. Yawn.

The one good thing about this comic was a rare, honest-sounding thought the character has as he appears to be dying at the end. He says, “At least I died doing some good for once.” That made me really care for the guy. But not enough to make me care about reading his comic any longer.

Verdict: Not even remotely considering buying another issue.

CATWOMAN #1

There are going to be a billion more well done reviews about this book than you will find here. This book is simply teenage male-fantasy pandering. Catwoman hardly ever has her whole suit on. Numerous times her breasts are hanging out of her costume, thankfully she is wearing a lacy bra to cover them up, although one wonders why she bothers. The story is blah and blah. The addition of a supporting character who used to be a showgirl, but now looks like a Russian man in drag, was interesting, but ultimately forgettable.

The scene everyone will be talking about though, will be the last few pages. Batman shows up to console her for her apartment blowing up. She jumps his bones (literally). He protests in a half-assed way, and they have sex with costumes on. She admits to not knowing who he is. She admits that this happens between them all the time. She admits that he kinda gets angry when it happens.

I honestly am ok with implied relations between them. And I would even be ok with a more tender moment. But, for me all this did was add a third blind spot to this universes’ Batman. Apparently, whenever Joker, Damien, or Catwoman are involved, Batman simply does not have any sense. Also, writers, if you want to make Catwoman a powerful character in her own right, you should definately not have tied her even more powerfully to Batman in the first issue.

Verdict: Nope. I really don’t need either porn, objectification, or to see yet another appearance of Batman in my comics.

 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1

This book hit the ground running. A bunch of superheroes in the 31st century who all used to be teenager heroes based on 21st century heroes. There are a billion of them. It is like trying to hop in in the middle of an X-men story arc. Reboot? Didn’t seem like it. For Legion fans, you will love it. For everyone else, you will be like, “W T F?”

Look, I am about as nerdy as they come, and I know an awful lot about a lot of different comic nerdiness, but if I wasn’t able to access this new #1 issue, I can’t imagine that it will get better. Pick it up at your own risk.

Verdict: Sorry. I really wanted to like this book. But I couldn’t.

 

From here on out, the books get much better…

BIRDS OF PREY #1

I have enjoyed almost every iteration of Birds of Prey I have ever read. I EVEN enjoyed the short lived TV show that was the WB’s attempt to do something like Smallville in Gotham. I think what always tied the book together for me was Barbara Gordon as Oracle, though. This is a hard reboot for the BOP, and yet even without Babs being the driving force of this iteration, it works. Batgirl does make an appearance, perhaps setting up future crossovers, but it is clear that Black Canary is running this show. And good for her. She deserves it.

The plot is a bit mysterious, but I don’t find myself dying to know what happens. Hopefully, this is a character driven book, and if so, I will continue to read.

Verdict: Another issue would be pleasant enough, but I don’t know if I am in for the long haul. 

 

SUPERGIRL #1

I am not the biggest Supergirl fan, admittedly. I can only take so many derivative heroes before my brain explodes. But although this was an origin story, and a hard-reboot, it was done very well. The art was great, and at very least, this Supergirl did not come across as a giant whiner with tendencies towards working for super-villains (like the last iteration).

The whole issue introduces some really cool Kryptonian tid-bits, and does a bit of world-building in addition to the main plot. The way that I know this reboot is going well is that every time I see Superman show up, I like his costume better and he looks more bad-ass. Of course, that really has nothing to do with Supergirl other than Superman actually does show up in the end and look bad-ass.

I should note that the shop was sold out of this one, and so Josh and I read it digitally. Which was really cool. And at 1$ cheaper, this might be a way of buying more comics than we would otherwise, or glimpsing books we might otherwise pass on.

Verdict: Sure, but probably only digitally.

 

BLUE BEETLE #1

I admit that this book has its flaws. For one, if you didn’t have a Spanish/English dictionary or were on Google Translate, you might have missed half the dialogue. Fortunately for me, 4 years of getting D’s in high school Spanish gave me just enough to go on.

Jaime Reyes, is a great character, with an already existing group of supporting characters. The cool thing here is that although Jaime’s world was already in place before the reboot, no one read the book. Then as Blue Beetle became more popular through Batman: Brave and the Bold and Smallville, Jaime has a bit more staying power, and his book can be relaunched with a lot of very sound story arcs and supporting cast members already built in.

This looks to be fun, if a little Peter-Parkery. Oooh oohh, also an appearance from an ancient Green Lantern! That is fun!
Verdict: Yep. I’ll definately pick it up for an arc.

 

BATMAN #1

This was the Batman book we have all been waiting for. It absolutely sets up the status-quo and deals with the Bat-family and with the setting of Gotham as a character in its own right. I loved the interaction between Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damien, and I want, want, want to see more stuff like that. There was a great team-up with Dick and Batman, but not Nightwing and Batman, as Dick is masquerading as the Joker. The dialogue that followed between Bruce and Dick was right on. The cliffhanger at the end was great as well, and lends weight to the feeling of a shared universe between the new 52 books. In a neat cliffhanger, Dick Grayson is revealed to be the killer at the end of the book! More on this in a second.

Verdict: Yes. Yes. Yes. This is going to be THE bat-book to read.

NIGHTWING #1

Fresh off the heels of being Batman for a while, Dick is back in his own persona of Nightwing. It feels right for me. Although his costume is slightly altered, and he is in Gotham now instead of Bludhaven, this all feels very right to me.

This is a great intro book, as Dick’s roots are explained as well as his legacy when his old circus comes to town. This serves to give us some more supporting characters to play with, as well as setting up some closure, and even some future story-lines.

The really cool thing though, is when a hit is put out on Dick Grayson (not Nightwing), because, the hit man says, Dick Grayson is the best killer in Gotham and he doesn’t even know it. That ties directly in to what we read at the end of Batman, implying that we are going to see these books tie-in very soon, if we already haven’t. Even if the books tell different stories, the idea that we can see one problem solved in different ways by different heroes is a really good way to hook me in further. Great job.

Verdict: In. Glad to have you back, Nightwing.

best for last.

 

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

This book was nearly perfect. The Corps does some heavy lifting as we get ringside for the introduction of a new threat who automatically sets itself up as a big bad by taking out a bunch of lanterns in the first few pages, without them even getting the chance to put up a fight. The book’s Teen rating gets challenged in fact, by the amount of gore.

After this however, the book really does a GREAT job of characterization for its two main characters. John Stewart and Guy Gardner both get star treatments, and we are allowed a rare glimpse of what makes these two characters tick. For Guy, this is rare, but it is done so well, that Guy keeps his douchey mannerisms, while he is allowed to let his love for kids and desire to do real good come out.

John Stewart is almost never done right, in my opinion. He has been used and abused as a plot device character, and the book which really allowed him to stand on his own (Green Lantern: Mosaic) was written out of continuity. Still, this book does a great job at giving us a look at the motivations for John as a Lantern and as a man, as well as setting up the status quo for Guy and John as they leave Earth.

A great intro book that also carries on the past, but suffers not for it.

Verdict: Was never really a question, but…YES!

WONDER WOMAN #1

Can I just say that there is something great about mythology when done right? And this book does it right. The Greek Pantheon is given a facelift for the 21st century, and wisely, most of them are not revealed yet. This allows us to experience them along with Diana. The setup for the first story arc is believable and consistent with what we know about Zeus and the other Gods, but the main villain here SEEMS to be Apollo, and he looks creepy as hell.

Wonder Woman needed this, folks. She needed to be a strong character, with roots in Athens, but living in our world. Thankfully, her time on Paradise Island isn’t mentioned, as when the story goes back there (as it has too many times in the last few years) it always feels like a step backwards. This firmly roots Wonder Woman as a hero in our world, and gives her a real mystery to solve, a real group of supporting characters, a hero that kicks butt, and a reason to care. Oh, and the art was great too.

I put this at the bottom, not because it was my favorite, or beacuse I thought it was the best book this week. I put it here because it has the potential to be the most important. Isn’t it about time that Wonder Woman actually earned her place as one of DC’s big three? Isn’t it time that girls get a hero that they can look up to as well as not be ashamed  of? I think it is. Of course, I think Powergirl is my favorite feminine hero, but I am not above rooting for the competition. As one person said this week, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Verdict: Glad to say that I will be returning to this one.

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