batman_21_cover_2013DC Comics just wrapped up an event called the DC Retailer Roadshow in New York, which is not an event to which I was invited, due to the fact that I am not a comics retailer, and thanks to ugly rumors spread by the owner of my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop including the word “taser” in sentences that also include the phrase, “If I ever get face-to-face with Dan DiDio.”

A gentleman named Roderick Ruth, however, was there, and filed a report on the proceedings. Which included the normal stuff you would expect from a meeting with retailers – hype about the upcoming Trinity War event, addressing concerns that DC isn’t giving retailers enough information to appropriately order high-demand books like the one where Robin died, what have you – but it also included an interesting tidbit about Scott Snyder’s Batman origin story Zero Year, which just started last week.

That tidbit being that there will be crossover stories with Zero Year appearing not only in some of the Bat titles, but also in Action Comics, Flash, Green Arrow and Green Lantern Corps.

Wait, what?

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action_comics_18_cover_2013Grant Morrison is done with Action Comics now. And I am okay with that.

I am okay with that because, with the benefit of  hindsight over the entire run, his story was meant for Superman fans. By which I mean, real, hardcore, longtime Superman fans. The kind of Superman fan who thinks Superman will never look right again now that Curt Swan is dead. The kind of Superman fan who knows, without consulting Wikipedia, that Silver Kryptonite makes Superman PCP-level paranoid, while Red Kryptonite makes him grow four dicks in each armpit. The kind of Superman fan who calls his penis “Beppo.”

Morrison’s run started with Superman fighting corrupt businessmen, as he did in the early issues of the original Action Comics, and ended with a battle with Mr. Mxyzpltk, effectively “modernizing” Superman for the New 52 by bringing him from 1938 all the way to 1965, via a mescaline bender. Sure, there was the odd stop to examine what Superman might mean to the modern world, but all in all, this series started out, and ended, as a celebration of the earlier, more out-there elements of the Superman mythos.

So, as I’ve said in other reviews of Morrison’s Action Comics issues, how you feel about Action Comics #18 will largely depend on how nostalgic you are for Fifth Dimensional imps, multi-colored Kryptonite, super-powered animals, the Legion of Super Heroes, and yet another bold statement about how important Superman is to the DC Universe and to America. You know, bold statements like Morrison made in All-Star Superman and DC One Million.

Personally? I can take them or leave them.

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Editor’s Note: Well, I certainly hope this little incident hasn’t put you off spoilers, miss. Statistically speaking, of course, it’s still the safest way to review.

Before I forget: there’s one astronaut in Action Comics #14 who is the primary candidate to be that astronaut who’s pulled over by the state police with a bottle of pharmaceutical amphetamines, a box of Depends, a roll of duct tape and a switchblade. See if you can guess which one! But that’s not important right now.

Action Comics #14 is going to work for you, or not work, depending on how you feel about Silver Age Superman stories, because this is one. From unlikely astronauts on a truly improbable mission that has never been mentioned before (and probably never will be again) to unlikely pseudoscience that can only be accomplished because Superman’s there to accomplish it, to a familiar yet faintly ridiculous antagonist, to a Fifth-Dimensional Imp, the only difference between this and any Superman comic book from, say, 1965 is the actual danger the astronauts are put in an the big, goofy Curt Swan Superman smile… which artist Rags Morales actually apes in one panel.

So this is a tough issue to be objective about because it is ridiculous… but it is kinda supposed to be ridiculous. It features people in distress who can only be saved by Superman – including a kid who clearly idolizes Superman – even though it requires you to believe that these pussies (and children!) are the hardy sort who would be the first to terraform another planet. It needs you to be okay with the idea that ten thousand Christian angels would have a hard-on to tear Mars a new asshole, and that a human distress call from the surface of Mars would attract less attention from the citizens of Earth than the landing of a remote controlled Tonka truck that made this dude the jack fantasy for every female XKCD reader in the English speaking world.

So this story has some logical issue, but the logical issues seem to be there on purpose. So the overriding question is: does it work?

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Editor’s Note: This is Lex Luthor. Only one thing alive with less than four legs can hear this spoiler, Superman, and it’s you.

Grant Morrison doesn’t do anything by half measures, but he outdoes even himself in Action Comics #9. In 20 short pages, he manages to level searing indictments against comic fans, comic publishers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, possibly Zack Snyder, and definitely almost anyone who’s written Superman between 1986 and 2011.

At best, this book might – just might – be Morrison’s comment on the upcoming Before Watchmen series. However, at worst it is, for all intents and purposes, a giant and ringing “fuck you” to just about any human being anywhere who might touch it, with the possible exception of Morrison himself. But that’s okay, because that gives me something to do.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Well Lois, we stand for spoilers, ruined story beats, and The American Way. Actually, those first two kind of are The American Way. Either way, you have been warned. Plus, your underpants are pink.

Action Comics #7 is, in many ways, a standard and classic Grant Morrison issue: a bunch of Big Ideas wrapped in one of the oldest ideas in the Superman mythos: fight Brainiac, and choose between his Earth and Kryptonian heritage. It is, in its own way, a perfect amalgam of what Morrison does best: turning old, hoary Silver Age story ideas that most of us laughed at during the Dark Age into something majestic and galactic in scope, all while perserving the humanity of the characters involved (It’s that last part Morrison sometimes punts on, but not here). In general, this is a good comic book.

And then there’s the fucking suit. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

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Cover to Action Comics #3, written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags MoralesEDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, it’s Superman! Strange visitor from another planet! With spoilers and ruined story notes far beyond those of mortal men!

I was initially skeptical about Grant Morrison’s take on the new early days of Superman in Action Comics – the only attractive thing about an urban hipster blogger with a mad-on for corporations and a Justin Beiber haircut is that when he’s also Superman you won’t do any time if you hit him in his John Lennon glasses with a fucking pipe.

And truthfully, the concept of a Superman who takes on slumlords and capitalists is a wonderful idea, provided it’s 1939 and nobody’s invented Brainiac yet. Even a partially-depowered Superman against, say, a CEO is like deploying a fuel-air bomb against Cookie Monster. As a power fantasy for the unemployed it might be fun, but from a storytelling standpoint, it presents the same problems as a 12 to 2 Red Sox / Brewers blowout: fun, but sure as hell not exciting. Particularly when you stop for a second and realize that you can kill your average American CEO by putting a plate of prime rib at the top of a flight of stairs.

It turns out that Morrison seems to realize this, so in just a couple of issues, we’ve transitioned from Superman as hippie anarchist to Superman as fuckup.

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It is Wednesday, as occurs every week, and as with every other Wednesday, this…

…means the end of our broadcast day.

And if I were you, I might complain, but if you’re a regular reader of Crisis On Infinite Midlives, you too went to the comic store, and therefore also have a new issue of The Goon! Plus Action Comics #3, and The Goon! And the first issue of the rebooted (But Marvel doesn’t reboot! Or publish The Goon!) Uncanny X-Men, not to mention The Goon! Plus a parody of Fear Itself! And the Red Lantern blood shower girl, underneath The Goon! Not to mention new The Goon!

Hard to say what we’re looking most forward to reading, but we must take the time to read them so we can review them for you, and – holy shit! Is that a new issue of The Goon?

See you tomorrow, suckers!

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So, as pointed out by Bleeding Cool, one of the opening volleys of writer and confirmed cat person Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run in the DCnU would appear to be the death of Krypto. The beloved pet of young Superboy and faithful companion to the Man of Steel over the decades, beginning with Action Comics #210 all the way back in 1955, was sent to the great Farm-Upstate-In-The-Sky by Jor-El, before the storied relationship between boy and dog ever began.

And, by great Farm-Upstate-In-The-Sky, I mean the Phantom Zone.

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You didn’t ask for it. We didn’t want to do it. And yet we own microphones and whiskey, so Crisis On Infinite Midlives is proud to present our the first episode of our podcast: The Sack Of Justice!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You might ask what the title means. It means we had whiskey, and sack is a funny word. Don’t overthink this. God knows we didn’t.

This weeks topics include: the first two weeks of DC’s New 52 (Including Batgirl, Deathstroke, Detective Comics, Red Lanterns, Men At War, and Hipster Douchebag Superman – I mean Action Comics), Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales, Williams’ Batwoman and associated Bat Nipples, and Atomic Robo vs. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. vs Hellboy!

Let’s make this a drinking game: every time you hear us slur or misname a creator, drink! Then by the time this is done, you’ll be as drunk as we were when we recorded this!

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There’s a panel in Action Comics #1 where Superman is shot by a tank, and he utters, well… he utters this:

Which is not the worst thing I’ve seen in a comic book this week – that would be The Big Lie by Rick Veitch, which makes Hawk & Dove look like Great Expectations, and which I’ll probably rant about tomorrow – but apparently it made the owner of The Comics Conspiracy, a comic store in North Carolina, go apeshit ballistic based on their Facebook page:

As of today’s release of Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison, The Comic Conspiracy, will until further notice, be boycotting all future Grant Morrison books. If you want Action Comics, you will have to buy it elsewhere…

Christian comic book readers and shop owners. Join us in the Grant Morrison Boycott. Action Comics #1 is a slap in the face to Superman, Christians and Superman creators Siegel and Shuster!!

…It grieves me to see a liberal Scottish schmuck like Grant Morrison take these liberties. I’m sorry, Superman would NEVER take God’s name in vain. In the words of the late Jim Croce, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

The dude’s blowup got a lot of play in the comics press, including Bleeding Cool, Geeks of Doom, and about a million other sites including Reddit. And I’m guessing that DC Comics, who’re in the middle of the New 52 press juggernaut, didn’t want to alienate the huge Christian fundamentalist market segment, who are well known for their love for comic books and other genre fiction, because they trotted Action Comics writer Grant Morrison out onto the DC Source blog:

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