Return of Tim Drake

When I first started reading comics, Tim Drake was the current Robin to Batman. He continued in that role until Bruce Wayne was “killed” at the end of Final Crisis. After that he Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son, took up the mantle of Robin while Tim assumed the role of Red Robin. This continued even into DC’s New 52 where they established in the new continuity that Tim Drake had never been Robin at all and was always Red Robin. Needless to say, Tim Drake suffered a lot during the whole New 52 as he was never really involved in the going on’s in the Batman titles and was always tethered to the Teen Titans in a much maligned run. They also shifted his history to have him have a much more “interesting” backstory instead of being a badass bookworm.

Then when DC Rebirth happened, Tim Drake was still Red Robin but they were going a back to basics approach to him. He was back in Gotham and was a major player in Detective Comics. The book was no longer just about Batman but more about the Batman family (minus Nightwing) and how Batman and Batwoman were preparing their team for something coming up. Tim Drake was pretty much third in line in terms of the chain of command as he was the one with the most experience. But it became clear that he was not going to be appearing in the book after the first story. Sure enough, Tim went out in blaze of glory after saving countless innocent lives. The team, especially Batman and Spoiler (Tim’s on/off girlfriend), mourned his death especially after learning he was going to give up being a superhero to become a full time college student. But this is comics and Tim was not dead.

In the just started, “Lonely Place of Living” catches up with Tim Drake in the intergalactic prison that he has been in since his “death”. Why he was transported there is still under way as all that is known is that he was putting pieces together that shouldn’t be put together. Just in the first issue, the book quickly establishes Tim Drake’s history and it will be one familiar to Tim Drake fans.

Pretty much his original history has been restored. From being a Batman fanboy as well as loving The Flying Graysons especially Dick Grayson. Recognizing that Robin was Dick Grayson due to doing a somersault that only Dick Grayson could do and thus figuring out that Dick’s adoptive father must be Batman. It is implied that the New 52 run of the Teen Titans is still canon but it’s pretty vague. But there is an element of Geoff Johns’ seminal run on Teen Titans that makes an appearance and that is the future Tim Drake version of Batman.

Tim Drake is my favorite Robin. He was the leader of Young Justice and Teen Titans. Though all members of the Batman family are physically capable, it was always established that Tim’s strength lied in his intellect. The fact that he figured out Batman’s identity as an adolescent is proof of that. This helped distinguish him from the acrobatic and devil may care Dick Grayson and the hot headed Jason Todd. Plus he was the first Robin to not have that goofy costume with the legs all exposed and Peter Pan footwear. He carried a bo-staff and his suit was clearly armored. His whole aesthetic was great.

I make no bones about how disappointed I was with how Tim was handled during The New 52. I tried reading Teen Titans on a basis but the book was all over the place that I could never get into it. Though I did enjoy when he would pop up in other books. So when DC Rebirth happened and he was a main part of Detective Comics, I was pumped. Even after his “death” he continues to play a role in the Batman books as a key piece missing. The team has recently discovered that he was alive but the question now remains is how will he get out of his predicament.

Hopefully after all this is resolved, Tim returns to Detective Comics and becomes a key player once again. Not only is he a key figure in the Batman mythos but also the DC Universe as well.


Happy National Comic Book Day

Today is National Comic Book Day, and it got me reminiscing about how I got into comics in the first place. I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would occasionally bust out his old comic book collection. He would have what you would expect from someone reading comics as a pass time. There were your Spider-Man, X-Men, Justice League, Avengers, all the big names. Then you would dig deeper and you could see that he had a lot of comics that you would not expect. There were tons of G.I. Joe comics, but that makes sense considering that he is in the military.

Then in the summer of 2000, I came out of seeing the very first X-Men movie and was blown away. I knew what I wanted to do once I got out the theater and that was start reading and collecting comics. So when I first started reading and collecting, I started with the two that would be considered typical: Spider-M and X-Men. Considering how huge of a Batman fan I am, you would think I would start with that but that was not to be the case. I never bought a Batman comic until 2003.

Luckily there was a magazine called Wizard that dealt exclusively about comic books and comic book related material. This really helped me figure out where to get my collection started. Not only just collecting to collecting as that is a fool’s errand. But where to go for the best stories and which creators were on the rise and which books were making an impact on the industry.

Geoff Johns’ run on The Flash is what solidified me as a comic book fan. I never really liked The Flash as I just thought he was a guy that ran fast. While that is true, his writing did a lot more for me. I realized that superheroics are fine but it’s the human element that really make these stories pop and stick with you for years to come. This is what would really make me become a comic book fan as I started broadening my collection. I would start reading things such as Preacher, Sandman Mystery Theater, The Walking Dead, Conan the Barbarian, Invincible and things that are not Marvel or DC Comics.

As I’ve entered adulthood, I don’t really read and collect comics like I used to. It’s kind of an expensive hobby to have at this point. I still keep my ear to the ground as to knowing what is going on. I also make a point of at least stopping by my local comic book stores once a month. There is nothing more than getting back into a good story with the characters that I’ve come to love over the years.

The War of Jokes and Riddles

The Joker is the quintessential Batman villain. The Riddler is my personal favorite Batman villain that is not The Joker. Recently, Batman writer Tom King has started The War of Jokes and Riddles storyline. Taking place in the early days of Batman’s career and details the gang war between The Joker and The Riddler. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense to have these two go to war with one another. Despite all his craziness, The Joker is a methodical villain with detailed plans on how to go about things. The Riddler with his vast intellect and narcissism makes him something of a thinly veiled villain. The two have a lot of similarities with one another and there have been frequent jokes about that fact also.

I’m always a big fan of seeing Batman’s early years as well. Typically you see his origin and then skip to the present. His intervening years are never really given much detail. So when stories like to go into those years, it’s fun to see a much more “green” Batman. I’m still not really sure as to when this story takes place but at best bet it seems to be a “year three” Batman. He already has most of his established enemies and familiar with those who operate outside of Gotham City. There have been a reference to Zero Year, because The Riddler is treated as a serious threat due to his machinations in that story.

The whole framing of the story is set against the backdrop of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle post coitus. In the issue prior to the story, Bruce proposed to her. As of this post, we still do not know what she said. It would be hard to imagine that they would have sex and him detailing a very personal story to her if she had turned down his proposal. But King has done a good job of writing around the answer and keep an interesting story going on where you don’t really think about it either.

Batman Catwoman Proposal

The best issue so far was a simple one where Bruce Wayne has invited the two leaders over for dinner in an effort to end the gang war. This shows a different side to Bruce Wayne. One who is very aware of things that many who are not so privileged will not know about. A nine course meal that sees even someone like The Joker act civilized. This does play into my belief that The Joker is someone who just fakes insanity and is perfect nonchalant in his monstrous acts. Bruce even offers to pay off the leaders in an effort to end the war with the caveat that one takes out the other. Later it is revealed that this was a ploy but something tells me that if the war was guaranteed to end, he might have done it. 

Bruce Wayne The Joker The Riddler dinner

This is a Batman at his best and worst. Best because we get to see what kind of hero he is. Working himself to exhaustion and willing to play all the angles and just not as Batman but as Bruce Wayne also. It’s also his worst because we see how he beats himself up over things that he has no control over. Close to a breakdown at numerous points as he is being run ragged.

Batman The Joker The Riddler.jpg

 The story is still ongoing but I’m always anticipating the next issue in the story. The art is also fantastic. If you want to get into Batman comics, I’d suggest starting with this story. It is destined to be a classic. 

The Fantastic Four Should Return

The Fantastic Four is Marvel Comics’ first family. The crown jewel of the numerous collaborations between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Throughout the Fantastic Four’s history, there have been numerous classic creator runs on the title. My personal favorite would have to be the most recent run by Jonathan Hickman and numerous artists. But ever since 2016, the Fantastic Four have not been in comics. The official reason is that the Fantastic Four comic was not selling well despite the fact that many other books that sold worse are still being published. The unofficial reason is that Marvel head Ike Perlmutter is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Back in the 90’s, Marvel was in dire financial straits. The way to help solve this problem was to sell off the film rights. This is not unheard of but Marvel made one glaring problem. When they sold off the film rights, it was under the condition that whoever bought the film rights held them in perpetuity as long as films were being made. This resulted in the infamous Roger Corman Fantastic Four film, the two mid 2000’s ones and the disastrous 2015 film. There is more news that Fox who hold the film rights plan to reboot the franchise again.

You can see where people in Marvel are getting annoyed at this predicament. They have the Marvel Cinematic Universe headed by Marvel Studios, Fox is doing great with the X-Men franchise and Sony is in a partnership with Marvel about Spider-Man. But Fox has yet to be able to crack the Fantastic Four issue. There are easy scapegoats to blame for all the films being underwhelming but they ultimately buckle under scrutiny. If the Fantastic Four were any of those things, there wouldn’t be such a uproar as to when the films get it wrong.

But should the comics have to suffer because of that? Reed and Sue Richard along with their kids are out in the multiverse doing who knows what. The Thing and Human Torch are currently appearing in team books and guest appearances. They are supposed to come together in their own book soon but it is still not the Fantastic Four. There have been hints here and there that the team will eventually return but nothing concrete. Then legendary comic artist Alex Ross dropped an image of Reed and Sue in new costumes and it got people speculating as if the team is about to reunite.

Just because Marvel made dumb but understandable financial decision does not mean the Marvel Comics should suffer. There has been little correlation between movie sales and comic sales. The Fantastic Four are also a lynchpin in the Marvel universe. Who does everyone turn to for science advice? Reed Richards. Sue Richards is that motherly figure that helps ground the team. Her little brother Johnny is the typical “irresponsible” brother who everyone knows has a heart of gold. Ben Grimm is the cool uncle. Marvel execs can claim this and that about how the team isn’t working but everyone who knows comics knows that to be full of it.

The Fantastic Four need to return and as soon as possible. It is really a dishonor to the legacy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to do their creation like this just because of some film rights. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and as more time is spent without the team being around, the more we grow fonder. Marvel’s First Family brings a uniqueness to the Marvel Universe and that is one that cannot be replicated.

Doomsday Clock Anticipation

Not the actual doomsday clock. That terrifies me. I am referring to the upcoming DC Comics event. This has been a slow build as ever since DC Universe Rebirth, we know that something is on the horizon. This something just happens to involve Doctor Manhattan from the seminal Watchmen series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Let me start by saying I don’t think Watchmen is some untouchable property. I understand its importance in the comic book medium but it’s not some holy grail to me. Just because someone does something involving these characters, does not mean it should taint your enjoyment of the original material. I really don’t like that mindset about anything. Reminds me of those who claimed “George Lucas raped my childhood” with the Star Wars prequels. If you don’t like what they’re doing or have no interest, just ignore it.

That out of the way, Doomsday Clock, looks to be an interesting event. Ever since DC Rebirth, there has been no real major event books at least concerning the DC Universe as a whole. In fact, other than the central conflict being Superman’s idealism against Doctor Manhattan’s cynicism, I have no idea what this book is going to be about. I don’t it’s going to come down to being a fist fight since Doctor Manhattan can do anything. Superman, despite the common misconception, has limits to his abilities.

DC Comics has done a good job of building towards what exactly Doctor Manhattan wants. Peppering in little things here and there, just enough to keep things connected but little enough where they overpower individual books. We know that players in the DC multiverse are being taken captive by the mysterious Mr. Oz, who happens to have a special interest in Superman. We also know that the Reverse Flash recently met his end after meeting with “God” who was heavily implied to be Doctor Manhattan. What’s the connection between Mr. Oz and Doctor Manhattan?

It is also known that the Trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) will play an important part in the story. Most DC events that wanna show the importance focuses on these three. But I’m sure The Flash (Barry Allen, Jay Garrick and Wally West) will play important roles as those three have been the main anchors besides Superman for this event. The less I really know about the event, the better honestly. I have complete faith in Geoff Johns. He does not always knock it out of the park but who really does? But there is always something I like about Johns and that he puts it all into his work. It also probably helps is that he doesn’t write any other books at the moment and so can put all his effort into this one. DC Comics has gotten me into their latest event and refueled by DC Comics addiction that I haven’t had since 2005. This is more than I can say about the other major comic book publisher lately.

Doomsday Clock Revealed

The time has finally come for Doctor Manhattan’s meddling with the DC Universe to be revealed. Ever since DC Rebirth in 2016, there have been strong hints about who meddled with the DC Universe. As of this writing it still has not been fully confirmed in story as to who it is. It has been strongly been hinted to be Doctor Manhattan. I figured that it might be a misdirect and it still might be but writer, Geoff Johns, specifically mentions Doctor Manhattan by name.

The mystery of why the good Doctor has been doing what he’s doing is one of the biggest mysteries since Rebirth. Multiple heroes and villains have been kidnapped and kept in a prison for unknown reasons. Characters that have powers beyond the extraordinary such as Mister Mxyzptlk are aware of a bigger threat but are seemingly unaware of the more finer details such as the who. Then there is the character of Mr. Oz who has been appearing since before Rebirth and is seemingly a key to solving the mystery with a special interest in Superman

Superman has seen the biggest change since Rebirth happening. Recently the older who appeared post Crisis on Infinite Earths and the younger one who appeared post Flashpoint have fused into one being with a mix of both characters’ histories. Geoff Johns mentions how the contrast between Doctor Manhattan and Superman is the key conflict between the two. With Doctor Manhattan whose powers are so extreme that he has become alien to humans despite being one. Superman, the alien, despite his abilities embraces the humanity.

It is refreshing to see a major DC Comics storyline revolve around Superman. It should be important to remind people as to why Superman is important and necessary despite being a “goody two shoes” and “boy scout” when he really isn’t either of those. The contrast between two beings that people relate to Gods will be interesting to see. Superman cannot have a fist fight with Doctor Manhattan who can atomize beings with a simple thought. So what will their conflict ultimately boil down to?

I will be heading to my local comic book store to check out what this story leads to. How it will shape the DC Universe going forward.

I Used To Think The Flash Was Corny…Then Geoff Johns Happened

When I first started reading and collecting comics, I really had no idea where to start. So while I was reading Wizard Magazine (RIP) I kept seeing mention of this guy Geoff Johns and his writing of The Flash. Now I knew who The Flash was in some respects but I could never call myself a fan. I really do not know what the disconnect for me was. But I decided to give the book a shot and let me tell you it was one of the best decisions I ever made. 

I started reading the book right after the The Flash: Iron Heights one shot issue. I was introduced to Wally West, formerly Kid Flash and now The Flash, who was a married man and struggling with his legacy. His uncle was Barry Allen, The Flash before him who was dead…at the time. He was the protector of twin cities; Keystone City and Central City. He was also a member of both the Justice League and The Titans. So life was pretty busy for the fastest man alive. 
The themes of legacy was probably the biggest theme throughout the initial run. The Rogues led by Captain Cold frequently compared Wally to his predecessor. There was also a new Rogues group forming of mostly completely new characters. Jay Garrick, the first Flash, served as a grandfather figure to Wally. Wally’s younger cousin (and Barry’s grandson) Bart aka Impulse frequently reminded Wally he planned to usurp him as The Flash someday. This all culminated in a tragic event where Wally’s wife, Linda Park, got caught in the crossfire and lost their unborn children. This all stemmed from a conflict between The Flash and Zoom, an obsessed villain who felt Wally did not have enough tragedy in his life to have a proper legacy. 

Johns also did this thing where in between major story arcs he would take an issue to put the spotlight on one of Flash’s villains. Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd, Zoom and Captain Cold were the highlights. Captain Cold was definitely a creators pet but Johns knew how to use him well without overshadowing. A hero is only as good as his villains and these spotlight uses definitely highlighted that. 

As mentioned before Johns created a multitude of new villains for Wally West. The Plunder, Girder, Murmur, Blacksmith, Brother Grimm, Cicada, Double Down, Fallout and Zoom. Zoom deserves a special mention due to the slow and deliberate buildup to his debut. Introduced as Hunter Zolomon, a criminal profiler who had to walk with a cane due to a mistake he made in the field. He was Wally’s ally on the force but after suffering another tragedy, Wally refused to use his time travel abilities to help Hunter. This set Hunter to become Zoom and one of the deadliest enemies of Wally. 

The confrontation with Zoom ended at issue 200. At the end there was a new status quo. But I’ll cover that in a second part. This first half of Johns’ run on The Flash was amazing. I was hooked for years. I even dug up back issues to complete my collection. If you have not checked it out, you can easily find trades or omnibus of Johns’ run. It is highly recommended. 

When Comics Changed My Life

Summer 2000. I had just come from seeing X-Men. I grew up in the 90’s when superhero movies were scarce and weren’t very good at that. I guess like any young boy I always liked superheroes particularly watching Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. But something clicked in my head that day. I guess the best way to put it is that a door was opened. 

My Dad always had this comic book collection that he kept locked away. So when I got back home, I immediately pestered him about pulling them out. Eventually he conceited on the condition that I bag and board all of them. The problem came when he had over 300 and since I was 10, funds were limited to say the least. So it took me almost the whole summer to complete the process.

As I was completing this task, I started reading them as I was bagging and boarding them. I was familiar with the more mainstream heroes such as Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman. Then I discovered heroes such as The West Coast Avengers, The Outsiders and Thor. I had no idea that this task just to see my Dad’s old comics would lead me down a rabbit hole. 

I was surprised by the sophisticated storytelling going on. One would not suspect that initially considering the ridiculous circumstances going on. But you can see the nuances and issues of the 80’s (the late 80’s is when my Dad got his issues) peppering the issues. After reading a ton, I decided that I wanted to start getting my own and start my own collection. 

Of course my first comic book would have to be an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Now I do not know how many comics I have collected over the years. I would certainly say that it is probably close to 1000 if not a little over. I do not really collect comics anymore but every now and then I will walk into my local comic book store and delve in. I still get a good feeling that I got when I was 10. 

DC Rebirth Has Reinvigorated My Love for Superman

So since the DC Rebirth event, the post Crisis on Infinite Earth’s Superman has once again become the de facto Superman in comics. But with him, he also has brought with him the post Crisis Lois Lane and those two have produced a young son, Jonathan Kent aka Superboy. So while it is the return of a familiar Superman, what is old is new again. This Superman now has a lot more at stake than once before. He no longer can jump willy nilly into battle as he only has himself to worry about. He now has to consider that every time he puts himself out there, he is potentially leaving a widow and father less son. We also get to see a Superman who gets a bit more angry as almost every interaction involving his son brings out the red eyes in him.

Lois Lane is also the same but with the added dynamic of being a mother. We see that she is still the headstrong reporter who is willing to do whatever she feels is right. But now that she is a mother, she will go to even more extremes than before. When Jonathan’s life was threatened by The Eradicator, she did not hesitate to put on the Hellbat armor, which drains the user’s life force, to protect her son. Now Lois Lane is returning to The Daily Planet to be the tough as nails reporter. So it will be interesting to see how being a mother will affect one of the definitions of career woman.

Jonathan Kent is the newest addition to the Superman mythos. The half Kryptonian/half human son of Superman and Lois Lane. The young boy is a bit naive as he has been sheltered for a good portion of his life. But with recent events and his Kryptonian powers sporadically coming in and out, Superboy is here. Superman is a character that’s never really had a sidekick/partner before. Now that this trope is also his son, it mirrors what is happening over with Batman and Damian Wayne aka Robin. He also is the first half breed Kryptonian in the new canon and this opens more possibilities down the line. We have yet to see him interact with his second cousin Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl.

Plus the family has a family dog who just happens to be Krypto. If you want to make the whole family mad, mess with Krypto.