Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tony Stark/Iron Man's atonement (Origins of Siege)

In today's Origins of Siege, there is a series of one-page origins of the key players, including Iron Man. Fred van Lente and Salvador Larroca do a fine job recapping Tony's story, and one phrase stuck out to me: after he disavows weapons production following his time in the Middle East, "Tony still felt he had much to atone for."

As it happens, one of the chapters in my upcoming edited book, Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality (Wiley), is titled "Can Iron Man Atone for Tony Stark's Wrongs?", written by Christopher Robichaud. It begins:
As a genius superhero, a wealthy industrialist, a high-ranking government official—and, lest we forget, a man of considerable talent in having a good time—Tony Stark is seen as a paragon of American achievement and excellence. But there’s a private side to him, too, and it betrays a haunted man. On closer examination, Stark’s party-boy lifestyle reveals dispositions that border dangerously on self-destruction. His techno-geek savvy finds him much better at, and much more interested in, building gadgets than personal relationships—just ask Pepper Potts (among others). And his career in and out of his high-tech armor is a checkered one, at best. Whether it’s following the trail of shady arms deals done by Stark Industries, controlling the damage caused when Iron Man technology falls into the hands of villains, or confronting the national crisis of Captain America being assassinated under his watch, Tony Stark often finds himself trying to right the wrongs that he, inadvertently or not, helped bring about. Indeed, his ongoing campaign to address both the circumstances and the guilt stemming from his perceived failings is arguably the main motivation behind Stark’s exploits as the invincible Iron Man. No doubt, this is what makes him such a fascinating character in the Marvel Universe. So, are personal atonement and public redress achievable? Or are they outside the grasp of the invincible Iron Man?
Robichaud focuses on moral responsibility, blame, and forgiveness in this chapter, one of the best in a book that turned out even better than I'd dreamed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Terrific anaysis of Rucka and Williams III's Batwoman

I highly recommend this fantastic breakdown/analysis by Kelly Thompson of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's Batwoman run in Detective Comics, written from both a general and feminist perspective - very enlightening and thorough.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New focus on Green Arrow and Red Arr--I mean, Arsenal

New this morning from DC's The Source - big shake-ups regarding Green Arrow and Roy Harper, who will apparently go back to the codename Arsenal after adopting the name Red Arrow in Brad Meltzer's JLA relaunch (and in deference to Kingdom Come).

I always liked Roy (theTiger Woods of the DCU - help me out, Google!), and I thought his "grown-up" identity of Arsenal was great (even though I agree with the internet poster who objected to the word "arse" being part of any superhero's name). I hope he recovers from his recent flesh wound in Justice League: Cry for Justice, and I'm looking forward to the renewed emphasis of him. (Check out Devin Grayson's Arsenal mini from 1998 for an earlier treatment.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Was "he" supposed to be in Iron Man #20?

I don't want to give anything away, but was Iron Man #20 (out today) the first appearance of a certain person of interest outside of his own venue?

SPOILERS BELOW in invisi-text (though context will probably give it away anyway):

The person of interest, of course, is Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, who shows up, with little fanfare, to help Pepper, Rhodey, Maria Hill, Black Widow, Bucky, and Thor revive Tony.

This reminds me of when Hal Jordan started showing up in various DC books, such as the Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot (and, IIRC, an issue of Blue Beetle featuring the Justice League) before Green Lantern: Rebirth was finished. (Barry Allen's a little different, since he officially came back during Final Crisis and only then had his very own Rebirth mini-series.)

So Jessica Jones is not Josie Maran after all?

I've loved the cover of New Avengers Annual #3 that has been online for months (and which appears here), since Jessica Jones (back in costume) distinctly (to my eyes, at least) has the face of model Josie Maran.

But when I picked up my copy today, the face had been changed to a much plainer one. (Apologies to whomever that image may have been based on.)

Might Moran's people have caught wind of this? Like my comic book guy said when I pointed it out this morning, "Is Tommy Lee Jones next?"

Bruce Wayne is back!

We knew it was coming, but finally here's the official announcement of The Return of Bruce Wayne (courtesy of USA Today and DC's The Source). It's a fantastic interview, and it sounds like Grant is going to do right by the Batman legend.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Red Robin thoughts and spoilers - and Booster Gold?!

Red Robin #1 did something important - it finally revealed (somewhat) why Tim Drake/Wayne (a distinction that was actually emphasized in this issue) is no longer Robin. That part made some sense - given that Damian wasn't going anywhere (why exactly isn't clear), Dick felt he had to watch him at all times, and the only way he could do that was to make him Robin.

Tim's rationales for his behavior didn't wash as well, though, either for his adoption of the Red Robin persona, or his pursuit of Bruce. He said he chose the Red Robin identity so none of his actions would reflect on Dick or Bruce (but rather on Jason--as if anyone on New Earth remembers his short stint as RR on his wacky travels through the multiverse in That Weekly Series That Shall Not Be Named). Uh, Tim - if you wanted to distance your actions from your brother and father, why not pick a completely different name? "Oh, he's Red Robin - for a minute I thought he had something to do with Robin from 'Batman and Robin' - silly me." Please. Hell, become the new Ravager (piss Deathstroke off!).

Sadly, his reasoning for Bruce's being alive was even weaker (though more emotional): he has no one left, so he has to believe Bruce is still alive. OK, I get that, very tragic and sweet at the same time. (Psst, Tim - Bart's back! And so is Conner! Check your Twitter, dude.) I would rather he believed--as Morrison emphasized so well in "R.I.P."--that Bruce is ready for anything, and if anyone can cheat death/Omega Sanction/Oprah, it's Bruce.

One minor quibble about the art - please decide what body size Tim has, because he looks like a 25-year-old in costume and a 15-year-old out of it. Otherwise, the art was very good, stylistic enough to give the book a unique look.

BONUS: Booster Gold #21 gets points for being the first appearance of Dick/Batman is a non-Bat-title, and very well done too - the costume was accurate to Quitely's redesign, and Jurgens even drew Dick's face and body movements so as to leave no doubt who was beneath the cowl. I wish more had been shown of Dick's reaction to finding out that Booster had gotten his ass kicked over and over trying to save Barbara from getting shot--I think that was underplayed, but maybe Dick's trying to adopt Brucian stoicism already (especially after trying to play tough with Booster initially). (And there was even a nice mention of Blue Beetle, to link the main feature with the back-up - which was great, BTW.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Winick's new Batman - now this is more like it!

I just finished Batman #687, Judd Winick's first issue with Dick Grayson as Batman, and it was absolutely magnificent (includng Ed Benes' pencils, which captured the mood of the characters perfectly). I'll probably have more to say later, maybe after I read this week's Red Robin #1 and later Dini's Batman: Streets of Gotham, and if Winick is planning on continuing to explore Dick's inner conflict throughout his run as he did so well in this issue, then I don't mind Morrison's book so much--that will provide the straightforward Batman and Robin adventures (with the Morrison twist, of course), and Winick will give us the emotional story underneath (which I'm more interested in).

One more thing: if you don't feel a tear starting at Alfred's response to Superman's asking him "are you alright?", then you ain't human. Damn.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dini's Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 looks great!

Now this looks good: just like before Final Crisis and Battle for the Cowl, it looks like Paul Dini will be a nice counterpoint to Morrison when it comes to writing the new Batman and Robin. Rather than creating a entirely new Bat-verse in which they can operate, Dini is putting them in the Gotham we know and love, and seeing how Gordon and the rest react to them. This I can get excited about.

Now let's see what Winick brings to the table...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thoughts on Batman and Robin #1

OK, the adulation for Morrison & Quitely's Batman and Robin #1 is getting a little much (this is just one example), so I'll put two cents in... It was OK. I was a little disappointed the first time I read it, and my impression improved on the second reading a couple days later. But I still thought it was just OK.

Here's one issue I had: What was the point all of the "Dick, you're turning into him" that we saw in the run-up to "R.I.P." and Battle for the Cowl? Apparently, the way Grant's planning to write him (based on numerous interviews), Dick is going to be a kinder, gentler Batman (like we were supposed to get from Bruce after Final Crisis and the 52-week cruise) as opposed to the grim and gritty new Robin. But what happened to the darker, more determined Dick we saw up until through Battle for the Cowl? Maybe facing an over-the-edge Jason Todd for the umpteenth time at the end of that series showed him the error of that way--let's hope Judd Winick fleshes some of that out. (I may be the only person who's looking forward more to his stories about Dick/Batman than Grant's--Judd always had Dick's voice, whether in Batman or Outsiders. Now, about his plotting...)

Don't get me wrong--I didn't like when Dick was turning into Bruce, although it made sense given the context. Dick is decidedly not Bruce, a persistent theme through Nightwing's tales over the last 10 years. But it was appropriate that, as his fate as the next Batman became more solidified, he became more like Bruce. That would have made for an interesting story--and who knows, maybe that's the story Judd Winick is planning to tell. Perhaps he'll show the darker side of the new Batman, perhaps a side he purposefully hides from Damian--I guess we'll see soon.

No matter if Dick becomes more like Bruce, or keeps his traditional lighter personality, I hope the next year of stories shows him (and the readers) that he will never be Batman, no matter how hard he tries. He won't be willing to go to the same extremes, and therefore he won't inspire the same fear and awe. And he shouldn't expect to be Batman--he is doing this out of duty, after all, not because he wanted to--because only Bruce is Batman. It's not about the cape, the cowl, or the name--it's the man underneath it all. (I thought this was the point Grant was making in "R.I.P.," and I could have sworn he reiterated this in a recent interview with respect to the current run, but I can't be certain.) Anybody with willpower can be a Green Lantern; anyone who can tap into the speed force can be a Flash. But wearing pointy ears doth not a Batman make--that takes living the life and making the choices that only Bruce Wayne has. There's only one Bruce Wayne--the Multiverse aside--and therefore only one Batman.

I think this is depicted beautifully when artists show Bruce Wayne casting a shadow in the shape of Batman--he is Batman, whether in or out of costume. It's part of who Bruce Wayne is, as demonstrated by the number of stories in which he struggled with "who is the real me--Bruce or Batman?" We don't have to choose--they are the same person. (Frankly, in general I think this applies to Steve Rogers/Captain America too--sorry, Bucky--but that will have to wait for another day.)

Let me sum up by saying that I'm looking forward to this year without Bruce (though I wouldn't have chosen it). I hope good stories will be told, but I also hope that the end result is Dick realizing who he is--and is not--and Bruce coming back in a way that reaffirms who the only real Batman is.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reborn - gee, I wonder...

Marvel has a five-issue mini-series solicited for July with the simple title Reborn, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Bryan Hitch. No details given...

It's pretty obvious who will be "reborn," right? I just wonder how they're going to do it - with Brubaker writing it, though, I'm sure it will be good...

Spider-Man and Philosophy - call for abstracts

I'm not editing it, but here's another comics-related book announcement:

Call for Abstracts
Spider-Man and Philosophy

Edited by Jonathan J. Sanford

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Please circulate and post widely.

To propose ideas for future volumes in the Blackwell series please contact the Series Editor,
William Irwin, at

Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:
Is Peter Parker a philosopher?; Is there room for God in the universe of Spider-Man?; Peter Parker, Spider-Man, and the problem of personal identity; Does Peter Parker, post spider-bite, become something other than human?; The Amazing Spider-Man and genetic therapy; Peter Parker, Ben Reilly, and the Clone Wars: flesh of my flesh?; Just how does Spidey-sense work?; Does Peter really have a choice?; Aunt May and moral wisdom; Do Peter’s book smarts have anything to do with moral wisdom?; The scope of responsibility: should Peter feel guilt over the death of Uncle Ben?; Great power, responsibility, and the foundations of obligation; Is Peter virtuous, or just continent?; Is Mary Jane morally superior to Peter?; Doctor Octopus and the passions; Peter Parker, adolescence, and moral maturity: why is Peter so insecure?; What makes a hero?; Is Spider-Man a deontologist, a virtue ethicist, or neither?; Character and responsibility for one’s character: the case of Harry Osborn; Character and moral transformation: the case of Harry Osborn; The Spider-Man villains and consequentialism; Pride and the anti-hero; Spider-Man and the problem of evil: where does the Venom Symbiote really come from?; Spider-Man, the Venom Symbiote, and moral purification; Spider-Man, Sandman, and forgiveness; Is Mary Jane a feminist?; Peter Parker, equality, and friendship: can a superhero have non-superhero friends?; Gwen Stacy: superheroes and death; J. Jonah Jameson and obsession; The Daily Bugle, media, and manipulation; Uncle Ben, Aunt May, and what makes a family; Fathers and sons: what happened to the Osborns?; Superheroes and the limits of community; Superheroes, exceptional types, and the common good: the Green Goblin vs. Spiderman; and the unmasking of Spider-Man; Peter Parker and life as narrative.

Submission Guidelines:
1. Submission deadline for abstracts (100-500 words) and CV(s): June 1, 2009
2. Submission deadline for first drafts of accepted papers: September 1,2009.
3. Submission deadline for finals drafts accepted papers: November 2, 2009
Kindly submit by e-mail (with or without Word attachment) to:
J.J. Sanford:

Green Lantern and Philosophy - call for abstracts

Here's the announcement for my latest project:

Call for Abstracts

Green Lantern and Philosophy

Edited by Jane Dryden and Mark D. White

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Please circulate and post widely.

To propose ideas for future volumes in the Blackwell series please contact the Series Editor,
William Irwin, at

Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

Willpower and the emotional spectrum: what’s the relationship?; The Yellow Impurity: The nature of fear; Parallax and moral responsibility; Sympathy for Sinestro: Can good be accomplished through fear?; Green Lantern, Space Cop: What is Green Lantern’s authority on Earth?; Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner: The role of moral luck; Helping orange skins and purple skins, but not black skins? Noble Lies: Telling the truth about the Book of Oa; Green Lanterns and social responsibility; John Stewart and the philosophy of architecture; “Snowbirds Don’t Fly”: Anti-drug messages in comics; The responsibility of gods: Ion and absolute power; Terry Berg and the treatment of hate crimes; Guardians and Zamarons: Gender and Emotion; Magic versus Science: Alan Scott and the Starheart; Was Jade really a Green Lantern—or was she more?; Green Lantern and Green Arrow: Superheroes and friendships; Go, Mogo, Go: Can a planet be alive?; Rebel with a Cause: Hal Jordan and authority; “Women in Refrigerators”: The portrayal of female victimhood in comics; Green boxing gloves: Does Green Lantern use his power in the best way?; Hal Jordan, the Spectre: Green Lanterns, the Guardians, and God; Alpha Lanterns: Do Green Lanterns need “internal affairs”?; Do Heroes Kill? Green Lanterns and the Use of Lethal Force; Love among the Lanterns: Right or Wrong?; Soranik Natu: Can a doctor be a Green Lantern?; The Mosaic, xenophobia, and integrationism; Power relations between Green Lanterns and Guardians; Ring of Gyges, ring of Green Lantern: The temptations of power; Kingdom of Ends: What constitutes a moral community like the Green Lantern Corps across species?; Using the ring for universal law, not particular goods: is this principle always worth upholding?; “I’m still the pretty one”: The meaning of Green Lantern costumes; Living up to legacy: The role of Alan Scott; Rewriting the Book of Oa: The role of tradition and law; Green Lanterns behaving badly: Do heroes need to be morally unblemished?; The chaos of life and the order of death: Guardians, Lanterns and Manhunters; The role of myth in Green Lantern identity

Submission Guidelines:

1. Submission deadline for abstracts (100-500 words) and CV(s): June 15, 2009

2. Submission deadline for first drafts of accepted papers: September 8,2009.

3. Submission deadline for finals drafts accepted papers: November 15, 2009

Kindly submit abstract (with or without Word attachment) and CV by email to:

Jane Dryden (

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Andy Diggle interview (re: Daredevil)

Good interview with Andy Diggle at Newsarama - he seems to have a good handle on Daredevil, and I like that he takes Matt's Catholicism to be a defining aspect of the character.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New cover for Watchmen and Philosophy

The second printing of Watchmen and Philosophy will sport this new cover - nice, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Long live the King(pin)!

Make sure you read Daredevil #116, out today - it starts the "Return of the King" storyline, starring Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin), and it is a wonderful and, actually, very touching tale.

Special kudos to David Aja, who channels JH Williams III on some pages (but with his own unique twist) - I love Michael Lark, but anytime Aja wants to fill in, he's welcome.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

DiDio, Bendis, and - me?

I have a nice quote at the end of this New York Daily News article (by Ethan Sacks) about the recession within the fictional world of comics - affecting the characters themselves, rather than the fans or creators in the real world.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bale IS the "goddamn Batman"

It appears Christian Bale may be preparing to play Frank Miller's "goddamn Batman" from All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder for the sequel to The Dark Knight - he's certainly got the dialogue down (with asterisks playing the role of the infamous not-so-black bars):

Watchmen and Philosophy interview

Check out my interview for Watchmen and Philosophy at - I had a fantastic time taking with Glenn, who runs the site, and the interview came out wonderfully.

Preview of "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader"

There's a four-page preview (plus two covers) of next week's Batman #686, part 1 of "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert at MySpace Comic Books - this looks fantastic!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dark/Mighty Avengers thoughts (spoilers)

Batman gets a break this week (while Heath gets recognition), and several flavors of Avengers step up. (Hey, if we can have a rainbow of Lantern Corps, why not 31 flavors of Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Remember the United Nations of Justice Leagues several Crises ago?)

I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed the hell out of Dark Avengers #1 - I intended not to buy any 32-page books for $3.99 (#1 may have been longer), but if Bendis and Deodato keep it up, I may have to make an exception. SPOILER ALERT: Osborn certainly has stones to outright replace Ms. Marvel, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye for his new Avengers team. Love him or hate him, you have to admire the gumption. Typical snappy banter from BMB - loved the brief exchange between Ares and Moonst--sorry, I mean Ms. Marvel. And the art was beautiful - highly recommended book, even if the higher price point grates. (UPDATE: Excellent interview with Bendis at Newsarama.)

Mighty Avengers #21 was 180 degrees different in tone, as you would expect from a Slott book - this looks to be the BWA-HA-HA Avengers. The final line-up is about as absurd as you're going to get, with - SPOILER ALERT - a little old (Scarlet Witch, Pym/Wasp, Jarvis), some updates (Vision), some legacies (Stature), and some oddballs (Amadeus Cho and USAgent), plus a few more. I'm not sure if I'll stick with this after the first three-issue arc, despite the $2.99 price, but I think I'll enjoy while it while I stick with it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Batman and Final Crisis #6 (SPOILERS)

There are spoilers right from the get-go, so be warned...

This was just weird, for so many reasons, such as:
  1. Batman using a gun (and with an extremely weak rationale) - didn't we just go through this at the end of Infinite Crisis with Alex Luthor?
  2. He shot Darkseid in the shoulder? Oh yeah, he's dead all right - no doubt about it. (Geez Louise...)
  3. Darkseid calls the Omega Sanction "the death that is life" - so by "killing" Batman, he's giving him life? (Maybe he'll be reborn in Damian's body like Ra's wanted to do.)
  4. This is how Batman's going to die? Really? I don't buy it... Jonathan Kent went in a much nobler fashion.
  5. Remember, Grant has been telling us for - well, forever now - that Batman is the most prepared mother------ on the planet. Don't count him out.

Several guesses/predictions:

  • Maybe Darkseid absorbed Batman's life essence through the omega beams to save his own life, and Batman will be restored in Final Crisis #7.
  • Miracle Machine - hel-lo?
  • Superman (or the Flashes - Flashi?) will go back in time (maybe with the help of Brainiac 5) to alter time so none of this happens. (And maybe take that awful Raven mini-series with it - and Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom while you're at it.)
  • If we're loading up the cosmic U-Haul and moving to an alternate Earth, it may be one with its own Batman. (And, with any luck, no Raven or Superman/Supergirl mini-series.)

That's what I've got - any thoughts?

UPDATE: Wizard has a fantastic interview with Grant Morrison here. (Ignore the "Final Crisis #7 available now" at the bottom of the page.)