Writing Contest: Be a Super Hero. Read!

5 04 2013

Here’s a great opportunity for students, especially those who love super heroes, courtesy of DC Comics and Capstone Publishing! The deadline for entries is coming up soon (April 15th), so there’s not a lot to spare. It’s open to grades 3 to 6, and prizes include a trip for four to tour both DC Comics offices and Warner Brothers Animation Studios. I may have to pretend that I’m a fifth grader so I can win this myself! Details for how to enter are below, and at the official site!

– dEV

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DC_SUPERHEROES_EBLASTWho Is A Hero In Your Life?

Super heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have super powers, like the ability to fly. They also have many human powers that make them heroic, like courage and imagination. Who is a super hero in your life? What makes that person special and what “super powers” does he or she have?

How It Works

If you’re in grades 3–6 , write about the real super hero in your life. Your submission should describe your hero and describe why that person is a hero in your eyes. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, and heroism. The top five entries will be posted online, where kids from across the country will vote to determine the grand prize winner!

Official Contest Prize

A trip for four to:

    • An exclusive tour of DC Entertainment Offices
    • A VIP tour for four of Warner Bros. Animation Studios (including travel, lodging and transportation)
    • A collection of DC Comics and Capstone merchandise

Plus:

  • A collection of DC Comics and Capstone merchandise
  • The hero featured in the winning entry will win $2,500 to be donated to a charity of his or her choice
  • The top five finalists will win a set of Capstone’s Man of Steel chapter books!

(Full Details)

http://www.capstonesuperhero.com/contest.html?utm_source=Eblast&utm_medium=Announcement&utm_campaign=BeaSuperHero.READ





Digesting the New 52: One Year Later

9 08 2012

‘Earth 2’ by James Robinson and Nicola Scott is one of the better DC books out now, partially because it’s not saddled with DCnU continuity issues.

Sorry for the delay in updating, but it’s turned out to be quite the hectic summer for us. I plan on rectifying that in fairly short order. One of my goals for this blog over the next year is to focus on more original content and commentary, while at the same time continuing to link to interesting, timely, and topical articles that I think you’ll enjoy.

As you’ll probably recall, my wife and I were able to attend the San Diego Comic Con last month. I’ll be blogging more about our experience at a later time, but one of the side effects of attending a big show like this is typically a shift in my buying habits. I think it’s a combination of meeting artists and writers, getting some insight into upcoming shorelines, and being introduced to stuff I’ve never read before. I end up dropping things that I’ve been buying out of habit, cutting books that are going in a direction I don’t care for, and picking up titles that have me excited about reading comics again.

As for the New 52 books, I’m making a few changes to my pull list. Resurrection Man and Justice League International are ending soon. Blue Beetle continues to be a bit stagnant and depressing, and Justice League is all flash with no substance. So those four books are off my pull list following the zero issues. Action Comics is getting a stay of execution for now.

I have no good excuse for not keeping up with ‘Wonder Woman.’ I’m trying to fix that.

Meanwhile, as I previously discussed, Wonder Woman was a book that I enjoyed and couldn’t really explain why I stopped buying it. I had the pleasure of meeting Cliff Chiang at Comic Con, and have fallen in love with his artwork, especially his covers. I bought a gorgeous classic Avengers print from him, and if I would’ve had the cash, would have bought several more. In chatting with him, I again started asking myself why Wonder Woman wasn’t on my pull list, especially considering it’s mythological noir is right up my wife’s alley. As soon as I got back home, it went on the list and I am in the process of catching up on the issues I missed.

Nicola Scott is also fast becoming one of my favorite artists. While waiting in line to meet her and writer James Robinson, I struck up a conversation with some other folks that were in the queue (side note: one of my favorite things about Comic Con is meeting people in line and talking about comics). Why aren’t you reading Earth 2, people asked. It’s James Robinson and Nicola Scott! And if you’re disenchanted with the DCnU, it’s a completely different take on everything! I picked up the first issue, and was immediately hooked. In case you missed it, Earth 2 takes place on an alternate Earth where things have turned out quite differently. It brings back elements of the Golden Age DC Universe, but starting from scratch with a completely new spin. I’ve caught up to issue three, and plan on sticking around for a while to see where it goes.

Following the upcoming zero issues, that leaves my pull list to include: Demon Knights, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, and Earth 2. It’s worth noting that I’ll be purchasing three fewer DC books a month than I was before the New 52 relaunch. On top of that, Demon Knights takes place in the distant past, Earth 2 in a parallel universe, and Action Comics in the early days of Superman’s career. What’s going on in the mainstream DCnU… well, it’s just not all that appealing to me. And here are some reasons:

A crossover and a major creative team change simultaneously? Great jumping-off point. Sorry, ‘Legion Lost.’

Crossovers Kill Me.

Legion Lost was finding its groove, and suddenly decided to cross over with both Teen Titans and Ravagers. Nightwing‘s first story arc was interesting, but it became quickly apparent that you needed to be buying Batman if you wanted the whole story. I was liking Resurrection Man just fine, until they did a crossover with Suicide Squad, which I don’t buy. Justice League International did a pseudo-crossover with Firestorm and brought in characters from Batwing and OMAC at the expense of characters I enjoyed reading about.

The easiest way to lose my interest in a title and create a great jumping-off point for me is to throw in an unnecessary crossover with a book I don’t normally buy. While I’m sure the publishers look at it as a way to give a sales bump to both titles by cross-pollinating the readership, it has the opposite effect on me. And especially so early following the relaunch, when the primary objective should be reintroducing the characters and setting, establishing the new status quo, and telling an attention-grabbing story with good art, dumping a crossover in the middle of things completely interrupts to flow of things. I usually end up pulling the plug.

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Digesting the New 52: What Am I Reading?

2 07 2012

Action Comics #9, of of the best ‘New 52’ stories so far.

This is the first installment of what I hope will be a three-part exploration of the good, the bad, and the ugly of DC’s “New 52” initiative. At this point, we’re nearly a year into the experiment, and it’s a good point to step back and look at what’s working, what needs improvement, and what has already failed. I plan to look at whether or not the continuity reboot was a good thing, or even necessary, and what titles I would consider good recommendations for students.

In this first installment, I take a look at the seven titles that I’m currently buying from the mainstream DC Universe.  To put things in a bit of perspective, I bought over half (around 30) of the New 52 first issues, kept on about 12 of them for three issues, dropped a few more after six, and am back down to the same number of DC books that I was reading prior to the relaunch. Essentially, DC got a lot more money out of me this year than they would have, but on a long-term basis it looks like I’ll be buying the same amount, or maybe even less.

Action Comics. I’d love to say that this title has been consistently good, but I can’t quite go that far. While the first story arc was solid overall, it ended with a confusing whimper. There have been some single-issue successes (most notably the “Superman of Earth-23 story in issue 9), but the whole “bottle city of Kandor” two-parter was kind of messy and uninteresting.

I’d like to know where this series is going. I would’ve been happy if they would’ve stuck to the “Superman: The Early Years” motif of the first arc, and I really enjoyed the “Multiverse” Superman story from issue nine, but I don’t know what I’m going to get from month to month. There’s a lot to like here, and also a lot to dislike. The best Superman story that didn’t star Clark Kent in blue jeans centered around an alternate universe Superman, so I’m a little concerned about the future of this title.

My current assessment: I’m hanging around until issue twelve. Not sure if I’m staying any longer.

Justice League International #9: OMAC joins the team. Because you (or at least Dan Didio) demanded it!

Justice League International. I was a Marvel zombie for the first several years of my fandom, and I avoided DC comics like the plague. At least, until 1986. Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, the universe became much more easy to follow, and the characters were way more interesting. And along came a book simply called Justice League that featured many of the characters I was either familiar with or curious about. I started with issue five, and it was good.

Justice League international became my favorite comic for the next five years or so. I became a charter member of the Booster Brigade, an unofficial fan club dedicated to Booster Gold. I even started an offshoot fan club dedicated to Blue Beetle. Captain Atom, Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Rocket Red… they all have a special place in my heart at having finally inducted me into the DC Universe.

I continued to follow the exploits of the former JLI through Infinite Crisis, 52, and Justice League: Generation Lost. DC Publisher Dan DiDio doesn’t seem to make much of a secret that he doesn’t care for the JLI, and while he’s willing to make a buck off of them, he’d rather bury them than praise them. Generation Lost ended with the promise of a new Justice League International. Then, Flashpoint happened. Continuity was erased. The JLI never happened. Everything was new again, sort of.

So, we don’t know if Ted Kord ever existed in the DCnU. But we surely know that all of those fun adventures from my adolescence never happened. And all of these characters like Booster and Guy and Fire and Ice, who shared so much in the past, are meeting each other for the first time. And while the art by Aaron Lopresti is very good, and the writing by Dan Jurgens is decent, something is missing. There’s a whisper in the background that something’s just not right. That people want to say something that can’t be said. The chemistry between the characters, which was the most important thing to the original series, is gone.

The end result is bland. It’s lacking in energy and purpose. And it’s already been canceled. Supposedly, Justice League International will be replaced by another title after issue twelve and an annual, but by what? I’ll most likely stick it out to the end with JLI, but I’m not very interested in whatever they have planned to follow.

Demon Knights #10. Please, DC… cancel something else!

Demon Knights. I’m a big fan of Paul Cornell’s writing, and he hasn’t disappointed with this series. The artwork is solid and fits quite well with the story, and the premise is phenomenally interesting. Cornell is known for high-concept, and Demon Knights definitely fits the bill.

Throwing some underutilized characters like Etrigan the Demon, Vandal Savage, Shining Knight, and Madame Xanadu together on a team during the dark ages is brilliant. It gives a great opportunity to introduce some backstory to the DCnU, flesh out the origins of some characters, and most importantly do something completely different from anything currently being done in the mainstream superhero comics line.

Demon Knights is a great title, and one I look forward to reading every month. Why do I get the feeling it’s on the chopping block? Probably because I’m cynical, and probably because it’s shed around 20% of its readership since the fourth issue, and is selling only slightly better than several books that have already been canceled. Regardless of what happens, I’m in four the long haul.

Resurrection Man #0, solicited as the last issue of the series. Will it rise again, someday?

Resurrection Man. I was a big fan of the original series, and was very excited to see it being brought back. In a lot of ways, it feels like we’re picking up right where we left off, with a few new twists thrown in. Then again, they haven’t completely recaptured the energy and intrigue of the original run.

Part of the problem involves the incorporation of the mainstream DCU into the shorelines. We are finally discovering Mitch Shelley’s origins, and finding out that before his “transformation,” he may not have been a very nice person. In the midst of it, we get a crossover with Suicide Squad, and I’m left missing part of the story because I don’t buy that title. In some ways, tying Mitch’s backstory into the espionage and “Dark” areas of the DCU makes total sense. But some aspects seem to be overreaching and forced.

Good art, great story. And of course, cancellation is imminent. Issue 12 will be followed by a special issue #0, and that’s the end for Resurrection Man. For now…

Batwoman #10. DC’s most consistently good title.

Batwoman. This may well be the best title that DC currently publishes. I may be a little biased, because writer/artist J.H. Williams III is a local, and buys his comics at the same store as me (Red Sky Comics in Merced… gotta hook them up with a plug). That said, Jim has done plenty of stuff in the past that fall squarely in the “not my thing” category, so I think I can be reasonably objective.

Batwoman is squarely set in the Batman mythos, without being overly weighed down by current Bat-continuity. Kate Kane is her own woman with her own motivations, and operates independently from “Batman, Inc.” Meanwhile, circumstances have forced her more into the “espionage” corner of the DCU, and an uneasy partnership with Agent Cameron Chase and the Department of Extranormal Operations.

With good writing and phenomenal artwork, Batwoman is doing several things right. It’s got a foothold in the mainstream DCU without being shackled to outside continuity. The stories are original and unique, and offer a slightly different perspective and tone than what is offered in other Bat-titles, or in the DCnU as a whole for that matter.

Batwoman also benefits from being a relatively new character, and also from being part of the Bat-universe, where there have been very few continuity changes since the ‘New 52’ reboot. Classic Bat-characters are being utilized, and Williams is introducing plenty of new villains to give Batwoman a rogues gallery of her own.

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