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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

the trademark twins

Once upon a time DC Comics had a Superman team-up book called DC Comics Presents, a companion to The Brave and the Bold that was a long-running Batman team-up book.  They like the title, so they trot out the title every now and again to keep it nicely trademarked. The current trotting out is a series of reprint books, and I decided to sample a Green Lamtern volume with four issues from 2001 written by Judd Winick.  Solid entertainment. The first of the reprinted issues was a minor landmark because it had a supporting character come out as gay. Preachy, no. But very much a best case scenario, the coming out process should go so well for everyone. [down the road a bit the character became the victim of a gay-bashing] The next two issues are a little preachier but surprisingly relevant today, as Green Lantern goes to a planet trying to emerge from a long civil war, but the extremists win. GL heads for home, mission not accomplished, which is not the traditional way in comic books. Why should he stay and help people who don't want to help themselves?  Whose side should he take?   The final issue could have been written 30 years earlier. Old GL engages newer one in a test of strength.  All in all, more than sufficient comics entertainment to justify the $7.99 tariff.   

Ten years later Winick is still producing similar quality work.  Red Robin #5 (Judd Winick & Jeremy Haun) continues to be good, straightforward comic book action.  A former Robin soon to become a bad guy Red Hood stops a suicide bombing plan in London.   This doesn't have the relevance of the earlier GL story but it has that same sense of straightforward fun, not choking on continuity. There isn't enough of that any more, certainly at DC there's always this pull taking a series back to continuity hell, where you can't read one thing without having read 32 others and then going out to read 23 more. 

Another recent series of DC one-shots resurrected the names of the company's old war titles. No particular reason for those, war comics haven't been a viable genre for decades, but heaven forbid you lose your trademark on the title "Our Army at War," which is the one I sampled. The script by Mike Marts was both not bad and reprehensible. Not bad, because the basic premise was a good one well-suited to the comics art form. The timelessness of war, the basic sameness of being a soldier now or sixty years ago with a modern soldier and one from Sgt. Rock's WWII days and they complete one another's sentences across the decades. But it would have been the same without having a two-page title splash featuring the destruction of the World Trade Center. I saw that as a gratuitous trading on tragedy, and it left a sour taste. It's a nice two-pager, the art by Victor Ibanez is clean and smooth, like good John Byrne.

And if you want to write comics, think of good ideas for a dozen obscure characters not much heard nor seen of in fifteen years for your coffee with the editorial big kahuna. And if you're lucky, one of them will ha e been the subject of the latest memo from legal that it's use or lose time for Doctor Obscuropus. My best career suggestion:  Sugar and Spike. Seems to me it's been a while and opportunity will soon be knocking.  

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