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My DC: Bizarro September 17, 2011

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I have made no bones in the past about my dislike for how Bizarro Superman has been handled most of the time.  I don’t like the idea of a segmented crystal doppelganger from space, and I absolutely loathe bizarro speak.

John Byrne came closest.  Bizarro should be a failed attempt at cloning Superman, who becomes twisted and monstrous.  He would have all of the power of Superman with none of the finesse or true understanding of what he is.

He would not be fully evil, but rather a sort of modern day Frankenstein, victim of the science that created him.  Easily manipulated, he would be like a child lashing out at a world he doesn’t fully understand.  He should be as pitiable as he is terrible.

We should be rooting for him to finally find a life of peace, but sadly, that is likely never to happen.

And he wouldn’t wear a backwards S.

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My DC: Superman September 15, 2011

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Much has been made of the new Superman in the relaunched Action Comics. I don’t totally hate it. There are actually a few things that I would take for my own version, and some things that would have to go.

For example, I like the idea of a Superman that is less powerful. It gives him a challenge and makes for better storytelling.

That said, the cocky thug version of Superman just won’t do. I know they were trying to channel Golden Age stick-it-to-the-man, but Superman needs to be a symbol of apple pie ideals of a man trying to be the best person he can be.

The sort of man who loves Thanksgiving dinners with his folks in Smallville. The sort of man who, as he said in Superman for All Seasons, would always think, “I could have done more.”

One of the things that worried me about the relaunch of Action was the size of Superman’s supporting cast. It seems to have been reduced down to Perry White, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen. That won’t do. Brooding loners rarely make for compelling worlds (unless you’re Batman).

His supporting cast should be huge! Ma and Pa Kent should be alive. He should have Perry, and Lois, and Jimmy, and Cat Grant, and Pete Ross, and Lana Lang and a million other Daily Planet employees (although I will admit I dug how Morrison had him working for a rival paper). In addition, new characters should be added into his world like they did with Spider-Man’s cast in Brand New Day. Draw from the other Superman media as they did in the past for characters that have become staples. Chloe Sullivan from Smallville proved popular enough that she should be a real part of the entire Superman world from now on (a feisty blogger, perhaps). Pastor Linquist back in Smallville from Superman For All Seasons could serve as a source of wisdom for Clark Kent. This is just spit balling ideas. My point is supporting cast!

Powers
Obviously Superman can fly.
He’s strong, able to fling cards and rend steal with his hands.
He can take a bullet without flinching, but he can still be hurt. A howitzer blast to the face would surely knock him for a loop though.  Enough of them?  Dead man.
He can hear really good (NOT, however, across the entire span of the globe).
Heat vision.
X-Ray vision (except through lead).
No polar breath, that’s just silly.
He has powerful lungs but he still needs to breathe eventually.  He still needs to eat, and drink, and sleep.  He cannot survive in the furthest depths of space unassisted.
His hair is NOT as strong as he is. You can cut it with scissors. Let’s be serious.

Clothes make the man.
No Kryptonian armor. The costume he would hear is the classic costume that is so deeply embedded in our collective unconscious. It would have been made by his mother for him. The S-crest was a symbol that was inside the rocket they found him in as a baby . . . the Kryptonian word for hope.

One final thought . . . Superman truly needs to be the last son of Krypton. Having all of these other Kryptonians who someone managed to survive dilutes him.

My DC: The Green Lantern Corps September 15, 2011

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As much fun as we’ve all had with with the whole war of light and introducing the entire emotional spectrum into the world of the Green Lanterns; as far as potential directions for story though it has hit a point where any story is inherently mired in the need to coincide with the many colored corps.

For my ideal, rebooted DCU we would be getting rid of all that and returning to a far more classic interpretation of the Green Lantern mythos. The only two colors in the emotional spectrum would be green and yellow. Fear and will.

The Green Lantern rings would NOT have a problem with yellow. Rather it would be a reference to the power of willpower being of less obvious, immediate power in comparison to fear.

The Guardians of the Universe are the oldest beings in creation besides Darkseid (more on him later), immortals with almost limitless power. Like in the past their original attempt to police the universe were the Manhunter robots, but their unfeeling logic turned them into a tyrannical force that had to be stopped.

After, they began the Green Lantern Corps itself. It has existed since as the most powerful organization in the universe.

My DC: Creative Teams September 14, 2011

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Some people asked me who I would put on as the creative teams for the books I mentioned in my “Launch Titles” post. My response was something along the lines of, “You mean I wouldn’t be writing them all?”

But then I got to thinking about it, and I did come up with some ideas. Here they are.

Action Comics, Detective Comics, War Stories, Western Stories, and House of Secrets would all be rotating creative teams depending on the stories at the time.

Batman – Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Batman and Robin – Paul Dini and Freddie Williams II

Superman – Mark Waid and Dale Keown

Wonder Woman – Gail Simone and The Dodsons

Flash – Fred Van Lente and Khary Randolph

Green Lantern – Christopher Priest and Joe Madureia

Green Lantern Corps – Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Carlos Pagulayan

Green Arrow – Judd Winnick & Gail Simone and Phil Hester

Justice League – Joe Kelly & Jeff Parker and Rags Morales

Teen Titans – Sean McKeever and Joshua Middleton

Justice Society – James Robinson & Geoff Johns and Nicola Scott

Aquaman – Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord

Shazam! – Art Balthazar & Franco and Ed McGuiness

Blue and Gold – Dan Slott and Mike Norton

Adam Strange – Greg Pak and Pascal Ferry

Legion of Superheroes – Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

The Question – Greg Rucka and Dennis Calero

My DC: Launch Titles September 13, 2011

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Bear in mind that this is what I would do in Keith’s ideal DC. Not yours necessarily (would love to hear yours though). These are also back to the very beginning of things, and just the launch titles. DC themselves had 52, well I managed to do it in half that.

It should be noted that probably my biggest influences were the Bruce Timm/Dwayne McDuffie animated universe, The Long Halloween, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.

Here are the books:

Action Comics – This wouldn’t strictly speaking be a Superman book, even though Superman would be the main star. It would be an anthology style book which could cover any character in the DCU really, as long as it featured superheroes (this would be a great place for stories about Captain Atom and Firestorm for example). The Superman stories that appeared here would not be allowed to crossover with the current ongoing stories in the Superman book, but would of course be in continuity.

Detective Comics – This wouldn’t strictly speaking be a Batman book, even though Batman would be the main star. It would be an anthology style book which could cover any character in the DCU really, as long as the stories were mysteries (this would be a great place for stories about Slam Bradley, Detective Chimp or Elongated Man for example). The Batman stories that appeared here would not be allowed to crossover with the current ongoing stories in the Batman book, but would of course be in continuity.

Batman – Obviously.

Batman and Robin – This book could possibly more accurately be called Robin. Batman would be a definite feature though. The perspective character would be young Dick Grayson, being trained by Batman as a crime fighter. This could be a bit lighter, more fun book than the main Batman title as it’s through Grayson’s eyes.

Superman – Again obviously. I’ll speak a bit more about this in a further post.

Wonder Woman – Of course there should be a Wonder Woman book. I have a take on her that I like which I will be elaborating on in a later post, so look for that.

Flash – Barry Allen died saving the world. Now his protege Wally West (a sarcastic, highly metabolic, flirty, cocky nineteen year old) is the fastest man alive, defending Central City from the Rogues.

Green Lantern – My Green Lantern, and that of so many JLU fans also, is John Stewart (in the look where he has the shaved head and goatee and was all bad ass). He would be the Lantern of Sector 2814 and the one on the Justice League. I’m sorry Hal Jordan fans, but here’s something you’ll like . . .

Green Lantern Corps – Hal Jordan would have once been the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, but as the “greatest Lantern of them all” the Guardians of the Universe would have placed him in charge of an elite squad operating out of Oa. His squad would include Kilowog, Tomar-Re, Arisia, Boodika, Katma Tui, and Ch’p. Their supervising officer would be Salaak.

Green Arrow – Oliver Queen rocking the beard and a long bow, dealing out justice while training his teen sidekick (and in this iteration nephew, thus making it less of a Batman and Robin riff) Roy Harper, aka Arsenal. More on Arsenal in a later post.

Aquaman – I really mulled this one over for a bit, but than I came up with some ideas that I think could make Aquaman really fun. I will elaborate more in a further post.

Shazam! – An all-ages book that is also firmly within the continuity of the rest of the universe. Billy Batson is the one and only Captain Marvel, and no one else can Shazam! up.

Justice League – This would be THE keystone book of the line, where all of the most important stuff happened. There wouldn’t be event books, there would just be really important Justice League arcs. The idea would be that the League started out with a core group of the original seven, but has since expanded into a larger team. Not every character would be in every story, but they would be dispatched to hot points by the Watchtower. It could allow for some interesting combinations of characters put into situations together, and for the really big problems they would have to call in all League members. The roster would be Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Aquaman, the Atom (Ryan Choi), Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Power Girl, Captain Atom, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Firestorm, Red Tornado, Mr. Miracle, Animal Man, Plastic Man, Blue Devil (with a more mystically based origin than that of Hollywood stuntman) and Manitou Raven.

Justice Society – A period era book highlighting the first group of superheroes who are all gone now, and not coming back. They would have been shut down by McCarthyism much like in “Golden Age”. The roster would include Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Flash (Jay Garrick), Wildcat, Hawkman, Sandman, Dr. Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, Starman, Hourman, Liberty Belle, Star-Spangled Kid, Atom (Al Pratt), Stripsey, Commander Steel, Black Canary (Dinah Drake), and Johnny Thunder.

Teen Titans – The world’s young heroes band together as they learn how to be heroes in their own right. The cast would include the characters that everyone is familiar with from the cartoon series so as to draw as many eyes as possible, plus the other teen heroes of the world. The roster would be Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, Static, Terra, Arsenal, Stargirl, Cyclone, Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm), and Jakeem Thunder.

Blue and Gold – Booster Gold and Blue Beetle! Ted Kord runs a failing technology company when he isn’t the superhero Blue Beetle. His best buddy is the obnoxious glory-hounding superhero from the future, Booster Gold. It’s a buddy action comedy superhero book.

The Question – Vic Sage is the Question, defender of Bludhaven (rather than Hub City in Denny O’neill’s run). My take would be the conspiracy theorist nut from JLU. He was as his most entertaining there. Renee Montoya would still be a factor in the world of the question, a police detective, newly arrived from Gotham City. She would sort of become the Question’s Jim Gordon.

Adam Strange – Adam Strange is transported by mysterious zeta beam technology to this distant planet Rann, where he must become an adventuring space hero, wooing the lovely Alanna of Rann and becoming a man of two worlds.

Legion of Superheroes – This book is more of a concession to other people than part of my own ideal DC universe. I don’t really know much about the Legion, but it’s always been a part, so it makes sense to me that there would be. If there were a Superboy in the book though, it would NOT be a time traveling Kal-El.

War Stories – Like Action and Detective this would be an anthology style book with individual issues or arcs focusing on a different revolving cast of various characters such as Sergeant Rock and Easy Company, Haunted Tank, Unknown Soldier, the Blackhawks, Enemy Ace, the Losers, the War That Time Forgot, and any others.

Western Stories – Pretty much the same idea as War Stories, only these would be westerns and the revolving characters would be people like Jonah Hex, Scalphunter, Bat Lash, Vigilante, El Diablo, etc.

House of Secrets – Another anthology style book in the vein of War Stories and Western Stories, but here dealing with things of a supernatural nature. Stories involving Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, even the Endless.

My DC: Secret Origin September 13, 2011

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Much has been made lately about the freshly rebooted DC comics. Except that it’s not a reboot. Except that it is.

Some of the books are good. Some are awful. Most are middling. In a lot of ways the universe is pretty much just like it was before the not-but-really-is-reboot, only more confusing cause of time compression and a question of what is and what isn’t in continuity.

For example, Death of Superman apparently still happened, but if you’re reading Action Comics that would definitely be a confusing issue.

Flashpoint was not a reboot. Technically neither was Crisis on Infinite Earths.

My question isn’t did they go to far, but did they go far enough? What I am proposing is a true hard reboot . . . completely devoid of any continuity whatsoever in any way. What would that universe look like?

What would my ideal DC Universe look like?

Over the next few days I will be doing a series of blog posts discussing just that. Please join me on this little thought experiment, won’t you?

August 2011 Movies September 1, 2011

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The Man From Nowhere
Nice Guy Johnny
Source Code
16 to Life
Eden of the East: King of the East
The Adjustment Bureau
The Beaver
Your Highness
Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides
Suckerpunch
Brides Maids
Limitless
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Slumdog Millionaire
Ink
Paper Man

REPOST: Open thoughts on the nature of faith August 13, 2011

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I first posted this back in April, but I felt the need to revisit it. For my own benefit, if no one else’s. Please bear with me and we’ll get back to talking about movies and silly things soon. . .

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I know there are some people who read my blog who aren’t religious. Trust me when I say that this isn’t an attempt to preach. I am merely thinking out loud, and perhaps giving the curious a chance to know me better, how I think, and the journey I find myself on each day.

Credit first where credit is due. Part of the reason I am doing this is because of the wonderful post I have read recently on Joe Boyd’s blog REBEL PILGRIM. It talks about why some people in the Christian community are hesitant to call themselves Christians. This post isn’t fully related, but I think you should definitely check that out.

That said, I often find that I am hesitant to call myself a Christian, not out of fear for what people will think of me (despite the hurt so many people have felt from the church as a whole), but for fear of being called out as a hypocrite. And for the shame I will no doubt feel when I know in my heart that I am a hypocrite.

In the mind, the picture I have of a Christian is a wholesome, a holy person. Who understands the Bible in full, is never confused, is never frightened, never makes the mistakes I am so liable to make, never sins and falters as deeply as I sin and falter.

That picture is not me. I don’t understand the Bible in full. There are large swaths I have questions about and I struggle every day to learn more just so I can answer the innumerable questions that come from a curious mind and an intellectual training. I am often confused. Almost always frightened. I make mistakes in my life both large and small. I sin deeper than I would care to. I falter. I have hurt people in my life without intending to. I have been careless with people’s feelings, and with my own. I am as prone to the temptations of the material as anyone my age, more so sometimes it seems. I often feel I don’t respect women enough (I am a young hormonal man with the imagination that goes with that). I often feel I don’t act enough to bridge the gaps in race and culture in this world (I have been silent at times when I should have spoken out to intolerance). I have made myself unavailable at times when people needed me. I am never as charitable as I should be. I hold grudges. I have been selfish.

I am weak.

I feel I am weaker than most. And that shame is hard to face sometimes. Is that the result of personal failings, or of the nature of enforced guilt that comes in traditional religion? The answer to that is probably both to be honest.

But as hard as it is for me to say sometimes, I do believe in God, and in Christ . . . and the reason I can say that is not despite all my failings and weaknesses, but BECAUSE of them. I have them not because I am strong, but because I am weak, and the knowledge that I am loved despite all my failings is the only strength I will ever really need.

I am coming to understand that I don’t have to have all the answers all of the time. It’s okay to say that I’m still learning. There is always so much more to learn, and the joy is in discovery.

I am coming to understand that confusion is natural. That confusion is nothing to be ashamed of, but a challenge to overcome.

I am coming to understand that fear need not be faced alone. I have been blessed with a support network of family and dear friends.

I am coming to understand that I will stumble. It’s going to happen. But I am also coming to understand that it’s okay. I pick myself up, dust off, and try every day to be a better person. A better son.

So what am I going to do?

I am going to live. I am going to face the world with curiosity, excitement, honesty, and courage. I will face the adventure that is life with passion, and I hope a degree of humility. I will attempt to forgive myself when I fail, and I will forgive others. I will do as Christ said and love others unflinchingly.

As a favor I would ask those who know me, that when I say something hurtful without realizing it, or fall short of your expectations, call me out on it. I can only grow through knowledge, and you guys are what make this journey worth it.

July 2011 Movies August 11, 2011

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The Emperor’s New Groove
Napoleon Dynamite
Ip Man 2
True Grit (2010)
True Grit (original)
Captain America: The First Avenger
Troll 2

Five Best Things of SDCC 2011 July 25, 2011

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I wasn’t at Comic Con. But, like any good nerd, I was following the news, so I thought I’d run down five announcements or things from the show which made me very happy.

5) Karen Gillan announced that she was indeed on board for Doctor Who series 7.

4) Chew won the Eisner for best ongoing series. Well-deserved!

3) The announcement of a new ongoing science fiction series written by Brian K. Vaughn, with art by Fiona Staples.

2) The debut of a new Kirby Krackle CD!

1) This!

In two industries full of cynical fans, both comics and movies; and in a world even more cynical; to see Andrew Garfield make a speech that earnest, hopeful, and excited, was just the best thing.