Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Awesome Comic Finds: Justice League International Vol. 1


It's time again for my new feature: "Awesome Comic Finds," in which I detail...well...particularly great comic finds. Not every comic I purchase shows up here, but when I find either unexpectedly amazing comics, unheard of comics, or comics at a super cheap price, I blather about them here.

I've made it no secret over the years both here and on Twitter how much I love the internet comic review show Atop the Fourth Wall. Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug lays out comic history in an engaging and entertaining way, and his explanations for what makes a good comic or doesn't make a good comic altered the way I viewed comics and got me back into collecting and reading again after letting my Adventures of Superman subscription lapse back in the early 2000's. One of the things that Linkara has spent quite a bit of time talking about is how awesome the superbuddies duo of the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are. While I'd never heard of them before, Linkara's enthusiasm got me interested in looking them up.

As a lot of these stories go, I was taking one of frequent trips to my local comic shop to check out their stock. I was actually in the middle of collecting the full Post-Infinite Crisis run on Superman that Kurt Busiek wrote in the mid-to-late-2000's. But something caught my eye. To my surprise, they actually had two used copies of Justice League International Vol 1.

One advantage to buying the used copies in the store over Amazon is that while Amazon has a huge, huge stock of basically every trade ever released, it's also at the whims of whatever weird economics the online marketplace follows. You'll have titles that will, for no explicable reason, balloon in price by 10, 20, 30 dollars or more, and sometimes they don't ever go back down to what they once were. At the time, JLI Vol 1 was going for something around $25, although it looks like the price has dropped back down to a more reasonable $12 or so as of this writing. Either way, finding it for $7.99 at my LCS (local comic shop) was still a great deal.

With that let me say: go grab this while it's cheap. This is a historical little book because of the audacious way Keith Giffen and J.M Dematteis approached the characters.

At first glance, it might not be something the mainstream person would likely pick up. If they're like me, they were raised on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Those shows had the Big Heroes--Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! The Flash! Green Lantern!--names that people recognize. But this cover features a bunch of nobodies, a luchador, and Batman--who might be the only reason someone picked this up. That, to me, is this book's biggest plus.

After JLA's lagging sales, Giffen and DeMatteis were tasked to reinvent the team, but weren't allowed to use any of the big named superheroes that might draw people in as they were tied up in their own stuff at the time. Because this group was made up of a bunch of odd-balls and lower tier heroes, the book seems to naturally take on a humorous, off-beat tone. The team is constantly struggling, both with their own weird interpersonal dynamics, but also with the general public questioning their methods and denigrating them because they're not the JLA that everyone is used to--which serves as a metacommentary on how the book was almost certainly viewed by some at the time--"but this isn't MY league! What are you doing??"

This run is often referred to as the "Bwa-Ha-Ha" era of the League in online comic circles, and for the most part, that's pretty accurate. For this first volume, the real standout to me is Batman, who is allowed to have a personality outside of the grim and grimacing dark avenger that people constantly want to dress him up as. I'd be curious to read overlapping Batman titles at the time to see how the tone of those books squares with the tone of this book.

The book isn't perfect--the women often come across as nagging wet blankets, or they're written off without anyone taking their opinions or concerns seriously. There's times this almost maybe seems like it's supposed to be a joke, but it's hard to tell, and either way it's not funny, nor fun. And there are a few unfortunate moments where even the "good guy" male characters--namely, anyone not Guy Gardner--objectify women in gross and uncomfortable ways. Of course, this came out in 1987, so it's of it's time, and while it doesn't ruin the book, it is there, and it's disappointing. 

All that said, the character dynamics are great, the stories are fun, and it's honestly refreshing to read a book that expands its view beyond the more commonly recognized characters. It makes the universe feel more fleshed out. I'd recommend checking your LCS to see if they have any old trades or back issues of this series, but if you can't, it's currently relatively cheap on Amazon and definitely worth $12 or so.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thoughts on Suicide Squad

Property of DC/Warner Bros.
DC attempts to snatch some of Marvel's box office success have been less than stellar. Their movies have a tendency to garner a lot of lead-up hype, open well, and then crash on the second weekend because everyone that sees their movies comes away thinking they're, at best, average and overhyped. And that really is at best since the last four movies DC has put out has been surrounded in controversy:
  • Man of Steel had a joyless, gray, Superman violently murder his opponent, and that's after a 30 minute fight in which Superman and Zod level at least half of Metropolis. 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice only had the titular fight for about 15 minutes and ended with the characters becoming best bros because their mom's had the same first names. 
  • The Killing Joke featured BATMAN HAVING SEX WITH BATGIRL NO FUCK YOU NO NO NO.
And now Suicide Squad. Early critics reports already had people uneasy when the fun, gonzo tone of the trailers didn't match the more apparently more reserved tone, darker tone of the movie. Before even that, the Juggalo Joker design was causing people to tilt their heads and wonder just what we were getting from what was touted as the "last hope"* of a stumbling studio trying to regain their footing and start matching Marvel's audience and critical success.

Instead of a dumpster fire, I found a movie that was flawed, nonsensical, but ultimately enjoyable. The plot was an everloving mess, and the more you think about it, the worse it holds up--which is saying something because it doesn't even hold up under a surface-level cursory glance, but the characters were fun, the cast engaging. They had good chemistry, and I found myself looking forward to the few moments the movie slowed down and let them just be around each other.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the promise of the movie more than the execution. It was sprinkled with good ideas, but squanders almost every one of them by surrounding it in a shit sundae of a plot.

If you want a good example of a movie length Suicide Squad story, I'mma stop here and encourage you to read Colby Park's review of Batman: Assault on Arkham, and after you've read that review, go buy the movie because honestly it's the best Suicide Squad movie that's out and available to watch right now.

That said, there's something to be said about seeing our heroes re-imagined on the big screen. That's part of the draw of the live action adaptations--seeing drawings and words on a page come to real, physical life. And I think we honestly get some of the best live action adaptations we could've hoped for: Margot Robbie was great as Harley Quinn, Will Smith is fun in most everything, and I kept being reminded how much I miss him in big expensive action movies where he smirks and snarks and shoots things, and Viola Davis turned in a tense performance as Amanda "The Wall" Waller.

Hell, Jai Courtney turned out a fantastic performance as Captain Boomerang. This may be the first movie I've seen that I will remember Jai Courtney being in.

That was this movies biggest strength. The characters were well cast with good caliber actors with good chemistry, and it shows. When the characters were just hanging out, shooting the shit, this movie lit up in a way that I haven't yet seen in a DCCU film. If this movie had just been a series of vignettes of the characters hanging out, it would've been great.

Before I go heaping too much praise on the performances, I want to note that even the good performances feel a little restrained at times--especially Viola Davis.

Davis occasionally seemed a little unsure of herself, almost like she was holding back. Quiet performances aren't bad, but while Waller is definitely a sly, calculating woman, she's also not afraid to get in someone's face and tell them to fuck right off. With a little more coaxing from the director, I feel like Davis's performance could've been elevated to something phenomenal.

That said, not every actor was gold. I actually really like the concept of Leto's Joker as a modern day gangster--replacing the old 20's and 30's trappings with grills, tattoos, and big rings. In fact, there's one moment where the concept tried to proved it could work: the Joker's goons bring in a guy and tie him to a chair. The Joker comes in, holds out his ring like he's fucking Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and when the guy kisses it, the Joker grins, climbs up on the guy's lap, and drolls, "I can tell you meant that." That got a chuckle out of me.

Unfortunately, the rest of Leto's performance was not that good. His performance was just...weird. It's hard to put my finger on specifically why it didn't work, but it didn't. His quiet, whispery voice and delivery were almost too borrowed from Ledger's Joker, while everything about the character seemed like he should've been bombastic and over-the-top. Like, Johnny Knoxville could've played the hell out of this type of Joker.

Also, I hated Leto's Joker laugh. It was a weird quacking laugh, sounding more like a sarcastic laugh given at a really stupid joke than the manic laughter that even Cesar Romero gave as the Joker. When the 60's Batman nails the Joker closer than you, you've misstepped.

SPOILERS HERE, SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS

Speaking of the Joker, I want to get into some of the more spoilery choices the movie made that I found very interesting. With the exception of one uncomfortable and violent scene in a flashback involving Harley Quinn and electroshock therapy, the Joker is actually less violent toward her, instead coming across almost more romantic--or at least manipulative, depending on your read. Again, that electroshock scene.

In the New 52, they revised Harley Quinn's origin to include the Joker throwing her into the same acid vat that made him the way he is. This movie borrows from that new origin, but instead of Harley being thrown in by the Joker, she actually jumps in on her own. But what really makes the scene interesting is after she jumps in. The Joker turns to walk away...and then turns back and dives in after her and pulls her to the surface.

There are moments throughout the movie where you can see cracks of what could've been bleeding through. There's another great scene at the end of the movie where the Joker breaks Harley out of prison. He and his goons are all dressed like SWAT cops, and after they cut the door to her cell open, he pulls his helmet off and the camera zooms in on him like some cheesy romance hero complete with Harley's cry of, "Mistah Jay!"

For those few seconds, you can see a dark humor that should've been in this movie all along, a juxtaposition of the insanity and cruelty that these bad guys engage in with the more common tropes and portrayals. If this movie was made with the craft and humor of, say, Fido, we'd be having a whole different conversation.

And that's the biggest problem with this movie. You can nit pick this thing to death because it's full of bad or confusing choices. Take the character of Diablo. I saw a lot of fervor made online about how Diablo is a Latino man who's a gangster, one who murders his wife and children.

Maybe it's because I'm a white guy and therefore a lot of this stuff isn't personal to me like it is to Latin@s, but the character pretty compelling. The thing is, I didn't get that Diablo was abusive to his wife like I saw some alleging online. I did see him smack her on the ass at one point playfully as she walked past, and while this movie's objectification of woman bounces between annoying and yawn-inducing, it seemed like he genuinely loved his wife.

His backstory plays out like something you'd see on a supernatural version of the Sopranos. Diablo is a criminal, and while is wife is aware, she doesn't seem to care that much as long as he keeps it away from the. One day, his wife finds that he's been keeping some of his criminal stuff at the house--money and guns and stuff if I remember--and she gets pissed. They get into an argument, and eventually he loses his temper--and control of his powers--and accidentally burns his house down, killing his wife and his kids.

That's certainly a dark backstory, but they're criminals. Of course they're going to have dark backstories. And while it also falls into fridging territory, it does add some compelling reasons for him to hold back and not fight--he doesn't want to lose control like that again, to cause harm and potentially kill someone when his powers have already cost him dearly.

But then they go and do something like reveal that apparently Diablo is, like, an Aztec fire god or something? There is zero hinting or foreshadowing of this. It comes out of nowhere during the fight against one of the big bads and then they just shrug it off. Like...y'all don't want to talk about how seemingly human Diablo just turned into a giant flaming skeleton wearing an Aztec headdress? No? You're just going to let that go unremarked on? Okay...just seems like something you might want to talk about.

The movie isn't just riddled with bad decisions, unfortunately. It's structurally a mess. I've seen some people say that Marvel's movies are getting formulaic, that they all seem to rely on the same beats. And that's probably true. I would argue those beats are mostly versatile enough that you can tell a gritty political intrigue story like Winter Soldier and a irreverent, galaxy-spanning romp like Guardians of the Galaxy, but I see their point. And while I appreciate movies trying to buck that structure, a big budget comic book movie was maybe not the time to try that, especially so early in DC's shared universe.

The trailers pull a fast one in making you think Enchantress will be on the team--and the movie kinda tries to do that, too. They introduce Enchantress like she's going to be a member of the Squad, with her own little flashback and everything. But the very first time that Waller tried to use Enchantress for anything, it goes wrong within seconds. Literally seconds. Like, so fast, it makes me wonder why the movie bothered wasting time trying to set her up as a team member--she never even gets to actually join the team. It's like, "let's use her to go somewhere we can't because she can teleport--wait where are you going?? You're only allowed to teleport where I tell you to!!!"

Amanda Waller says that she can control Enchantress because she has her heart separate from her and she can stab at it to hurt her. This, also, is immediately undercut. When Enchantress goes rogue, she frees her brother from a little husk voodoo doll thing, and then he gives her some of his power so that her heart getting stabbed over and over doesn't kill her. And when he does that, she basically becomes fully powered, he doesn't seem any weakened by the effort, and the entire heart thing is basically dropped until the climax when suddenly the heart becomes important again.

But what I still don't understand is, instead of scrambling the Suicide Squad...why didn't Waller just destroy the heart. If the point of the Squad's mission was to kill and stop Enchantress and her brother, why bother with the squad at all? And if the point wasn't to kill her, what did they think sending three people who can shoot good and three people good at punching was going to accomplish against a reality bending magic user??

I thought maybe Enchantress would decide to fight with the squad. Maybe her brother gets too power hungry and she sides with them to stop him out of spite. Or maybe Dr. Moon (the person Enchantress is possessing) gains control over the powers and sides with them. Something. Anything to provide dramatic structure and tension to the film. But no. There are no twists and turns. No revelations. No surprises. The one thing treated as a big revelation to the cast--that Rick Flagg is sleeping with Dr. Moon--lands with a huge shrug because we've known that from probably the first 20 minutes of the movie, and it doesn't seem to matter to the mission that they're on anyway. Again, if the goal was to subdue Enchantress without killing her, how did they plan on doing that when she immediately teams up with her equally powerful brother and creates a swirling vortex of city destroying power in the middle of downtown? Waller has no qualms killing the fuck out of the rest of the squad if they go rogue, but she doesn't want to kill Enchantress? Why??

This going rogue and becoming the villain of the movie? That's in the FIRST THIRD! From a structural standpoint, it makes no sense because the movie introduces a huge and deadly threat, and then goes back to meandering and teambuilding that feels almost like a derailment when you're imagining while these people are being all cute and snarky, a whole damn city is being destroyed--which is exactly what is happening. Imagine if, in Man of Steel, Zod started fighting Superman in the first third. and then, while Metropolis is being decimated, it cut over to Bruce Wayne going around and recruiting the Justice League like we saw in the sizzle reel from Comic-Con. That's what happens in this movie.

It would've made more sense to introduce some smaller token threat, and then escalate the situation when Enchantress gets involved--like how in Guardians of the Galaxy, the team starts out trying to steal and deliver a priceless artifact, only to eventually run afoul of Ronan.

Enchantress was a bad choice for a first movie villain. Maybe in movie 2 or 3 when the character dynamics are a little more established and you need to up the tension by pitting them against a threat that hopelessly out-matches them. Maybe as the dark final chapter were a few team members actually die? But not as a first villain.

Another of example of this movie introducing and immediately dropping ideas is in the climactic final fight with Enchantress. She puts a spell on the team, tempting everyone with visions of what their heart most desires. But Diablo, in a decent bit of character building, isn't fooled by the false reality where his wife and kids are still alive because he's already owned that he killed them, and while he hasn't really moved on from it, he's not going to pretend that he didn't do it just because it's more comforting.

That in and of itself would be fine, but then he turns to everyone else and basically says, "Hey, guys. This isn't real." And everyone goes, "Oh? Yeah, I guess you're right. Okay." And that's it. They held the tension for all of maybe 60 seconds before it was over.

And that's a damn shame. The heart's desire fantasy sequences could've been used to great effect to develop everyone's characters. People have already been talking about Harley's fantasy--her and the Joker dressed looking normal and dressed in 1950's style clothing, kissing and tickling their baby. Harley even presses the "normal" cycle on her dishwasher. It's sad and funny in the best way, but entirely too short because it's there and gone in a flash.

This scene should've been used to really dig into the hearts of these characters. Deadshot could've been spending time with his daughter somewhere free from the fear of persecution, Killer Croc could be enjoying life as a normal looking person, and maybe just for a humorous cut away, Captain Boomerang's fantasy is just him, like, drinking a fuckton of beer and eating fried chicken or something.

Instead, Deadshot's heart's desire is apparently to kill Batman in front his daughter. How...sweet? Rick Flagg's was obviously him sleeping with June Moon. And, as I already said, it amounts to nothing because they all just shake it off.

Imagine if Diablo was able to sort of sour everyone's fantasies with reality. Like, his protestations that the dreams aren't real seeps into the fantasy and changes them. Suddenly, the cops bust in and arrest Deadshot while he's with his daughter, the Joker turns violent and hateful against Harley, Dr. Moon turns into the Enchantress and starts killing flag--everyone's piece of heaven turns sour and they wake from their nightmare.

For an example of how this exact concept can be done to great effect, go grab a copy of JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative. In that book, Cyborg--who is currently a planet eating spaceship (don't ask), starts gathering up all of the former Titans and putting them in virtual reality pods in which they live through what he think is what they want most and will make them happy. That is met with humorous and heartbreaking results, as below.


Property of DC/Warner Bros.

SPOILERS OVER, YOU CAN START READING AGAIN

Ultimately, Suicide Squad was an enjoyable mess. The plot is riddled with stupid or baffling choices, false starts and stops, and clear studio intervention, but that doesn't stop the cast from being charming and fun. It doesn't stack up against any of the Marvel movies on a structural level, but I actually probably like this movie more than either of the Thor movies--which may be blasphemy to some, but honestly while the Thor movies are obviously better made, they're boring to me.

I actually think I would watch this again. It's almost definitely not worth theater prices, but maybe buying from the $5 bin at your local grocery store, or renting it from a Redbox isn't out of the question. And obviously, I would strongly suggest you get Batman: Assault on Arkham first because it is an example of what this movie could have been.

With news that DC is pushing Man of Steel 2 into production, I can only hope that maybe this movie will get a sequel with a better script. Or hell, DC, just go ahead and get that Gotham City Sirens movie started. Because I'd love to see more Harley Quinn sooner rather than later.

As for the DCCU? It doesn't appear that they're learning from their mistakes. For one thing, they're making Man of Steel 2--blech. But for another Justice League is teasing a black suited Superman--ala from The Return of Superman. Yay, more stupid 90's garbage. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that the Wonder Woman is good, eh?


*I'm honestly not convinced that these movies will have a "last hope" type situation. For one thing, the movies make more than enough money overseas to continue justifying their existence. Additionally, DC has staked their reputation on their approach to these movies. At this point, changing direction would look either like they were copying Marvel, or admitting that their first attempts sucked, and they don't want to do either of those things. So with each movie met with a collective shrug, I think the "last hope" will just shift to the next one, making it not really a "last hope" but more a desperate stupid optimism that maybe MAYBE the next one will be good, while watching DC continue to double down on the same decisions every time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Awesome Comic Finds - Impulse: Reckless Youth


I'm starting a new feature on this blog called "Awesome Comic Finds." It's going to detail...well...particularly great comic finds. Not every comic I purchase is going to show up here, it's not going to be a weekly series or anything like that, but when I find either unexpectedly amazing comics, unheard of comics, comics at a super cheap price, or what have you, I'll blather on about them here.

As I said in my last update, I've been reading a lot of comics lately. This was originally spawned by how absolutely awful Batman v Superman: Dawn of Blech was, and how much I hate Zach Snyder and the current DCCU take on Superman--morose, somber, dickish, violent, nihilistic. So I started purchasing some of the preboot Superman trades to cheer myself up. That led me to buying more and more DC comics from before the New 52. And here we are.

Today's offering is a happy little accident that wasn't even on my radar: Impulse: Reckless Youth.

Impuse is one of those characters that I imagine would make newbie comics readers likely shake their head and go, "Aaaah! What? No! No!" Bear with me, though, because this shit is going to get kinda Silver-Age goofy here, but it's also kinda awesome.

Most superhero premises are very simple:

  • Superman: Can fly and punch things good. Also very moral. 
  • Batman: Dresses like a bat. Punches bad guys. Also good thinker. 
  • Wonder Woman: Can fly and punch things good. From an island of only women.
  • Booster Gold: From the future. Went back in time to save people for a profit.
  • Batwing: Batman but in Africa (No, I don't care about Lucius Fox's grandson.)
  • Donna Troy: Just kidding. Her backstory is a clusterfuck wrapped in a nightmare.

So then we get to Impulse, aka Bart Allen. If that last name sounds familiar, it should. Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen (the 2nd Flash).

Bart was born in the 30th century, but his metabolism was so fast he was aging too quickly--think that Robin Williams movie Jack, but with super speed, too. By age 2, he already looked 12. To try to help his brain develop semi-normally, scientists hooked him up to a virtual reality machine that raced his brain through 12 years of development. They also ran tests and experimented on him because they're scientists in a superhero comic, so of course they did.

Bart's grandmother, Iris Allen, smuggled him back in time to try to give him a normal childhood away from laboratories and scientists.

My first experience with Impulse was from from the Geoff John's run of the Teen Titans, wherein he adopted the name Kid Flash.

I instantly liked Impulse in that series because he kind of reminded me of myself. He had difficulty focusing because everything moved so slow (relative to him) that his attention was pulled in 100 directions at once. He wasn't just some dumb slacker, though. He was very intelligent and retained everything he read. In the first volume of John's Teen Titans run, Impulse actually runs to a library and literally reads the whole thing.

This reflected my own experience in school. Classes were often slow and boring unless I really liked a teacher's personality. I always made A's and B's, but I spent most of the class doodling in my notebook or writing stories, and usually just crammed the night before a test. Even most of my essays were drafted out the night before--or in one case, 20 minutes before class--and I made good grades on them. It was always hard to sit down and really focus on something for a long time - one job I had that involved combing through spreadsheets for minute details was damn near the death of me, I tell you.

Imagine my surprise then when I stumbled across this beauty at my local comics shop. I regularly go to my comics shop. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to have a monthly pull list like a lot of people, so I get my kicks by browsing their trades. Browsing through this, at first I didn't recognize the character, I was just drawn to Mark Waid's name, as I really dug his Daredevil run. But reading the back--and the hilarious introduction, I quickly realized who this character was, and jumped at the chance to read not only the issue that featured his introduction, but the first several issues of his solo series.

I wound up dropping $7.99 for the trade, and in pretty pristine condition for a book released in 1998 or so. When I got home and did a little more research, I was shocked that 1) Impulse's solo series actually ran for ninety frickin' issues--I didn't even know Impulse had a solo series, much less that it lasted for ninety issues!--and 2) the trades were going for $25 (or more)! That's quite a steal.




It's honestly a huge shame that DC hasn't released more trades from the series because I dug the everloving hell out of this little graphic novel, and it's got me interested in picking up the Young Justice titles where he featured prominently before joining the Titans.

I might write up a proper review of Impulse: Reckless Youth sometime in the future, but for now, let me just say that if you can find it for a decent price, I highly recommend picking it up.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My Boredom Driven Comics Project


Can I talk about comics a little bit?

I've been considering posting some comics related stuff here. I love comics, and I can only talk about it to my wife so much before she starts giving me a funny look and reaching for our roll of duct tape. I don't really have any friends that are into comics that I can blather with. Any blathering I do to my friends is mostly tolerated in the hopes I'll tire myself out. It's very kind of them.

Anyway, lately I've undertaken a project of sorts that I'm a little ashamed of because it makes me feel and look like a lunatic. It also requires a bit of backstory.

We don't have a whole terrible ton of money, although things have been getting better. To quell my desire to buy ALL THE THINGS, I started creating Amazon wishlists and dumping all of my wants and desires in there. Random books about religion, history, gender politics, psychology, movies, tv shows, comic books. It all goes in a list to scratch that shopping itch without having to spend any actual money.

I started out trying to keep my comics grouped into runs and in order on the list. I worked at keeping all of the Gail Simone Wonder Woman trades together, all of the Scott Snyder Batman trades together, etc, etc. But Amazon isn't really built to work like that, and became a huge pain in the ass. Plus, the list started getting so long that it was a chore to even look through. Then three things happened that got me the tumblers in my mind moving.

The first thing was I decided to just create wishlists for each superhero title so I could easily see which trades I still needed for a particular character, and I could keep them arranged in chronological order without being pages and pages long and getting all jumbled. The decision came because I was reading Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, and they kept referencing some massacre that happened in Genosha. At first I thought I'd missed something earlier in the book, but that wasn't it. I started Googling to figure out what they were talking about and found a thread in which people were discussing roughly when in X-Men continuity Whedon's AXM took place.

The second thing was I started trying to find the title of a Joker-centric Batman book about the Joker going straight that I found in college at our local Hastings. I'd decided not to buy it at the time, and that turned out to be a mistake because I never saw it again. At first I thought it was the Brian Azzarello comic Joker, but no. I thought I was going crazy until I finally, FINALLY found the name of the trade: Going Sane - a story in which the Joker manages to "kill" Batman, and afterward becomes a functioning and normal member of society...for a while, anyway. That led me to looking up whether that was considered a "canon" Batman story* and THAT led me to a list on Reddit of all of the Batman trades that existed at the time listed in "chronological" order--that is, not the order that the trades were released, but where the events of the comic took place during Batman's long career.

The last thing that happened was I was feeling glum after seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I hate that movie, and I hate its predecessor Man of Steel. I didn't hate MoS initially, but time has not served it well in my mind, and after buying a 5-movie pack that had all 4 Christopher Reeve Superman movies and Superman Returns, I realized just how much of a dreary, joyless slog the Snyder-verse Superman was. I was jonesing from some good Superman and started Googling recommended Superman runs. I found, among the suggestions, Kurt Busiek's Superman run and decided to start collecting it. I bought the first couple trades and noticed that it took place after the 1-year jump that occurred across all DC comics post-Infinite Crisis, which I only knew from watching Linkara's Atop the Fourth Wall.

The Batman trade list was still rattling around in my mind, along with the discussion of where Whedon's X-Men run fit in the greater X-Men continuity. Out of curiosity and boredom on one of my days off, I made a list of the DC trades I already owned and arranged them in chronological order. To that list, I added the remaining DC trades from my wishlist. Then I added in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, and Flashpoint to the list in their appropriate points to help break up the list into its appropriate eras. 

Over time, as I've found new books and/or runs that have drawn my attention, I've added them to the list and what started as a little boredom project has become a working list of the DC continuity. It's not everything because...frankly I don't care about everything, but it doubles as both a buying guide for me so I can see how much of a particular run I have left AND as a fascinating sort of truncated History of DC timeline.

I haven't decided if I want to post the full list yet, or just post what I own so far and add to the list on the blog as I add to my own collection. I also think I'm going to start posting reviews of trades as I buy them.

This may not be interesting to anyone but me, but it gives me a place to vent some of this crazy without going on and on to my friends and my wife...unless they read these posts. But then, I didn't make them do that--they picked their OWN poison, then.

Anyway, so yeah, comics. Been thinking about them a lot lately, been reading them a lot lately. Gonna post about them some, but not all the time.

Bye!



*If you're curious, as far as I can tell, the answer is no. It was part of a series called, I believe, Legends of the Dark Knight in the late 90's and early 00's that told non-canon Batman stories similar to what the most recent versions of Adventures of Superman and Sensational Comics with Wonder Woman did.